Maxwell Hendry's house was broken into by Michael Houston while he and his wife were on holiday.
Neighbours alerted the police when they heard the couple's alarm go off and footsteps inside the terraced property in Glasgow's Kelvindale area.
Houston was caught when his DNA was found on the handle of a set of drawers in the main bedroom.
The 40-year-old, from Maryhill, pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to a string of charges between October 2012 and November 2013 including breaking into four houses on Kirklee Road, Partickhill Road, Highburgh Road and Lancefield Quay and stealing various items.
He also admitted breaking into a basement flat on Rosslyn Terrace with intent to steal and a charge of having a knife on him.
Procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan told the court a window at the back of Mr Hendry's house had been smashed and that was how Houston got in. The court heard a "significant" amount of jewellery was taken from drawers in the main bedroom.
Mr Allan added: "The value of property which was stolen was £28,380 and there was no recovery."
He said Houston was later traced to Barlinnie prison -where he was held after being caught breaking into a property at Lancefield Quay on November 4 last year. When interviewed by police, he denied any involvement.
Sentence on Houston was deferred until next month for reports and he was remanded in custody.
Sheriff Hendry was appointed in 2003 and sits in Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.