A PROFESSIONAL car thief who was arrested after a hunt involving a helicopter, tracker dogs and more than 100 officers was jailed for a total of three years in two separate cases. District Court Judge Britton said the Attorney-General's chambers had shackled his hands in one of the cases by not charging the man with the more serious offence of theft. Cheung Kwok-wai, 22, had pleaded guilty to two charges of taking a vehicle without authority and two of attempting to commit a similar offence. Judge Britton queried why the Legal Department had not charged Cheung with the more serious offence of theft. Cheung also appeared before the same judge in another case where he was involved in stealing a car and staging a traffic accident to claim insurance. In the case, he admitted one count each of theft, conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to make a false report to police. He was sentenced to a total of three years on both sets of charges. The court heard Ms Ho Wing-sze entrusted her car to Cheung in October 1990 to sell it on her behalf. A car of the same make and model was found missing from a Kwun Tong car park on November 6, 1990, by Mr Lam Chun-shun. In mid-January 1991, Ms Ho was told by police that an application for compensation for her car had been filed with her insurance company. Soon after that a car bearing the same registration number was intercepted by police and one of the occupants said he had bought it from Cheung for $10,000. Mr Lam and Ms Ho both claimed the car belonged to them. Inquiries revealed that Cheung had deliberately caused Ms Ho's car to be involved in a collision and that he reported the staged accident before he made a claim for $92,422. As Ms Ho's vehicle was damaged beyond repair, Cheung stole Mr Lam's car and used the parts to build a complete car. Cheung was arrested after being found unconscious on a slope at Stubbs Road at about 2 am on February 28 last year following a spate of car thefts and attempted car thefts the previous day. Stressing that car thefts had reached epidemic proportions in Hongkong, Judge Britton said a deterrent sentence must be passed. Defence counsel Mr Anthony Mitchell-Heggs had earlier submitted that Cheung came from a broken family and had received little education.