An habitual burglar whose criminal record dates back 20 years was arrested because he could not stop trembling when stopped by police, a court heard yesterday. The District Court heard that when Tang Wing-cheung, 34, tried to flee from an apartment block where he stole a handbag on December 20, he was stopped in the lift lobby by a police officer. '[The police officer] noticed the defendant was sweating. When the defendant and the policeman had eye contact, the defendant looked downwards and covered his face with his hands,' prosecutor Lily Ho said. She said the policeman became suspicious and confronted Tang, who 'started to tremble'. Tang pleaded guilty to burglary yesterday and was jailed for three years. Ms Ho said when housewife Hung Pui-wan, 46, returned to her Sha Tin flat that afternoon, she left it unlocked and her handbag near the door as she went to the toilet. About 5pm, when Ms Hung remembered she had not secured the flat, she realised her handbag was missing and phoned police. An officer arrived at the Sun Chui public housing estate minutes later and saw Tang emerging from a lift, Ms Ho said. Tang was found in possession of a mobile phone and $500 after his arrest. The prosecution said Tang had 21 previous convictions, 12 of them for burglary. His earliest burglary was in 1982. Deputy Judge Sham Siu-man said Tang was a repeat offender and the previous punishment apparently failed to deter him from reoffending. He raised the starting point from the normal three years to 4.5 years and discounted it by one third for Tang's guilty plea.