Prowler behind dozens of Wimbledon burglaries should have been deported years ago

Kapaj has two children by his wife Radi who are thought to have been born in the UK. He was, however, refused naturalisation as a British citizen in 2011 on the grounds that he had lied about his nationality, meaning he should have been deported.A previous opportunity to stop him before he embarked on his notorious crime spree was missed when Kapaj was arrested in possession of stolen goods in the Wimbledon area in 2001.He had been working as a builder and was taken to Wimbledon police station but when police began to interview him he is said to have collapsed with what appeared to be a serious illness and was rushed to hospital.Kapaj recovered quickly and was discharged with no further police action. Police did not take a DNA sample, which could have allowed police investigating his later string of burglaries to identify him significantly earlier.As he was jailed, a Home Office source told the Telegraph: “We will be trying to deport him. We automatically consider all foreign national offenders who get 12 months or more.”The source admitted: “There are questions as to why they didn’t deport him at the time. It’s a tricky one to get into.“We are going to have to try to get rid of him. How easy that is is another matter. Human rights could be an issue.” A notorious burglar dubbed “the Wimbledon prowler” will be deported five years after officials missed their chance to send him back to his native Albania, it emerged on Friday, as his victims described how their lives had been shattered.Asdrit Kapaj, 42, was jailed for 14 years after a prolific burglary spree that terrorised the affluent residents of leafy Wimbledon village for a decade.Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, will seek to have the father-of-two deported after he admitted 25 charges of burglary and attempted burglary in which cash and valuables worth almost £500,000 were stolen in meticulously planned break-ins before he was eventually caught red-handed last year.Police suspect he committed 10 times that number of offences, stealing goods worth several million dating back to the millennium.Judge Peter Lodder QC, sentencing him at Kingston Crown Court, 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.” In 2004, he moved to Altrincham, Greater Manchester, where he owns a fish and chip shop, before regularly making the 430-mile round trip to Wimbledon several times a week, telling his wife he was going to do building work.Such was his level of proficiency that he never left a single fingerprint. At one property where he damaged the window frame he found some paint in the garden shed to cover it up.His wealthy victims included German tennis star Boris Becker, whose home was broken into in October 2013. A relative of Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, is also said to have been targeted while French footballer Nicolas Anelka reportedly chased him across a garden.Residents said suspicion in the village was so rife that childminders, drivers and cleaners were sacked as their assumed were responsible.In victim impact statements read to the court, they told of the devastation caused by the theft of family heirlooms, designer handbags and significant quantities of cash, none of which has been recovered.Clare Calnan, whose home was targeted in 2014, said; “The fact that the burglar must have been in the garden watching and waiting for me was particularly disturbing. Kapaj, who arrived in the UK in 1996, only managed to stay in the UK after falsely claiming to be a Kosovan seeking asylum and was granted indefinite leave to remain in 1999. “For years, every time I walked down my path to my door at night, I wondered if he was lying in wait, watching and waiting. Peace of mind was the most valuable thing he took.”Nan Brenninkmeyer, suffered the greatest financial loss when Kapaj stole 30 items of expensive and sentimental jewellery valued at £371,855.Michael Lamaa, of Peregrine Way, said his wife had never since felt secure in her own home.Kapaj was only caught when DNA advances provided a link between two crime scenes.The deportation order could be served almost immediately.If successful, he would likely not be deported until the end of his sentence. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more