'Wimbledon Prowler' Astrit Kapaj Sentenced To 14 Years In Jail

Police believe Astrit Kapaj was responsible for far more than the number of offences he admitted.
Detectives halted Astrit Kapaj's crime spree in February.
Detectives halted Astrit Kapaj's crime spree in February.
PA Wire/PA Images

A prolific thief dubbed the Wimbledon prowler has been jailed for 14 years.

Astrit Kapaj, 43, pleaded guilty to 26 offences dating back to 2008 after his crime spree was halted by police in February.

But detectives believe the married father-of-two may have been behind 10 times that number, with up to £5 million in stolen jewellery and cash lifted from homes in Wimbledon Village, dating back to 2004.

Chip shop worker Kapaj, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, is said to have regularly made the 200 mile journey from his home to south-west London.

He had previously lived near Wimbledon shortly after arriving in Britain from his native Albania in the 1990s.

Astrit Kapaj was caught on CCTV.
Astrit Kapaj was caught on CCTV.
Met Police/Handout

At the height of its investigation, Scotland Yard had a team of 50 officers working full-time to find the suspect, and had drawn up a list of around 60 criminals with a record of burglaries in the capital.

Victims included German tennis star Boris Becker, while he was reportedly chased across a garden by French footballer Nicolas Anelka.

An emotional sentencing hearing at Kingston Crown Court on Friday was packed with local residents and heard tearful accounts of the impact Kapaj’s crimes had.

Kapaj’s lawyer, Hugh Mullan, sought leniency by arguing his client’s crimes were “professional”.

“All I would observe is he clearly avoided contact with the residents at all stages, in many occasions residents didn’t realise they had been burgled until some time later,” Mullan said.

But victim David Tacheno, who had £5,000 in cash taken from his home by Kapaj in May 2018, told the court: “I now feel anxious and worry that every time I leave someone will break in. I have a lack of trust in humanity after this incident.”

Christopher Coombe, who had his garden shed broken into twice by Kapaj, said he felt “violated”.

While Rona Cruishank, who had a £2,000 diamond ring and a £1,000 necklace stolen from her house in December 2015, said she now “feels like a prisoner” in her own home.


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