A fish and chip shop owner from Altrincham who was dubbed the “Wimbledon prowler” for a decade-long crime spree in London has today been jailed for 14 years.
Asdrit Kapaj, of Woodfield Road in Broadheath, conducted a 10-year spree between 2008 and 2018, during which time he carried out 21 burglaries and two attempted burglaries, with proceeds totalling around £542,000.
He made 400-mile round trips from Altrincham to south-west London to commit his crimes.
And officers believe the 43-year-old married father of two may have been behind more thefts, with up to £5m in stolen jewellery and cash stolen from homes in Wimbledon Village dating back to 2008.
Victims included former Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker, while on another occasion Kapaj was reportedly chased across a garden by former Manchester City footballer Nicolas Anelka.
Sentencing Kapaj today, Judge Peter Lodder QC said: “You are a prolific, persistent and professional burglar.
“Such was your stealth and expertise in many cases it remains a mystery how you gained entry to their homes. Not surprisingly, you terrified the whole community.”
The Kosovan national also broke into five homes over Christmas last year, taking around £65,000 worth of valuables, carrying out one break-in on Christmas Day itself.
Kapaj, who ran a string of fish and chip shops in Timperley, was finally caught on February 22nd this year outside a Wimbledon property wearing a snood over his face and carrying a burglary kit including gloves, torch and pocket knife.
Clare Calnan, whose home was targeted in 2014, told Kingston Crown Court: “For years after the burglar’s last visit, every time I walked down my path to my door at night, I wondered if he was lying in wait, watching and waiting.”
And Rona Cruishank, who had a £2,000 diamond ring and a £1,000 necklace stolen in 2015, said the theft has left her “heartbroken”.