The ‘Wimbledon prowler’ has been jailed for 14 years for burglaries totalling nearly £500,000 worth of property over more than a decade.
Astrit Kapaj, 43, of Woodfield Road, Altrincham, was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court yesterday following a long-running and meticulous investigation by the Met.
Kapaj (pictured above), who had lived in the Wimbledon area in the late 90s, would journey from his most home in Greater Manchester to Wimbledon to target the victims’ homes, some repeatedly.
Detective Inspector Andy Durham, senior investigating officer, said: “This man terrorised the community of Wimbledon for well over ten years.
“He moved away from Wimbledon more than 15 years ago, to Greater Manchester, yet despite the almost 500 mile round trip, he returned to Wimbledon repeatedly.
“He targeted the same area, and often the same houses, to steal for his own personal gain.
“Kapaj was controlled and well-organised as he carried out his sustained campaign of offending but what he didn’t count on was how much he would reveal about himself.”
RELENTLESS: A map showing the properties targeted by Kapaj.
He added: “Kapaj refused to relent from targeting this community, yet the police have shown more than equal tenacity in bringing him to justice.
“With conventional policing responses and crime prevention approaches unsuccessful, we had to create innovative solutions.
“A partnership of local officers with specialist and technical units both inside and outside of the police, and most importantly working with the support of the local community, has now led to the arrest and conviction of the Wimbledon prowler, Astrit Kapaj.”
Police paid tribute to the support that the community in Wimbledon gave to officers throughout the investigation, including the Parkside Residents’ Association.
Kapaj is an Albanian national who had been living in the UK since 1996. He was arrested in February and pleaded guilty to multiple offences at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday, 24 April.
He initially denied having any involvement in the burglaries. The total value of the property stolen during the burglaries he admitted was £497,300.
Laurie Porter, a resident who liaised with officers and the community throughout the enquiries, added: “We are so grateful and thankful to the Met for all their hard work. From the specialist crime squad to the detectives working on the case to the local PCs in Wimbledon Village. They’ve been brilliant.
“There were times I lost hope that they would ever catch this man but I never lost faith that the Met was do everything it could to apprehend him.”