When a woman woke during the night she could smell smoke coming from the lounge of her Leamington flat - and found a burglar calmly having a cigarette.
Intruder Arthur Fear, who had climbed in through an open window after leaving a nearby pub, left without taking anything after she challenged him.
He was caught after being picked up by town centre CCTV cameras and his saliva being found in a passageway leading to the window.
But Fear, aged 35, of Eden Court, Mason Avenue, Leamington, may escape being jailed after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to burglary with intent to steal.
Although a judge indicated that she will sentence him to 20 months imprisonment, she said she will suspend it if Fear proves he has turned his life around.
Prosecutor Mike Conry said the victim lives in Leamington town centre where her Warwick Street flat shares a communal entrance with another flat into a courtyard.
Because it was a warm evening in July last year, she left a window open when she went to bed at about 10.20.
Shortly after 11pm the woman, who has a sensitive sense of smell, was woken and could smell cigarette smoke from the living room.
Through the partly-open door she could see Fear in there smoking, so went in and shouted at him: “What are you doing here? Get out, get out.”Fear did not reply, but got up and went to the door, mumbling something as he fumbled with the key before managing to open it and leave.
Mr Conry added that Fear, who made no comment when he was arrested, had convictions for thefts and violence, but none for burglary since he was 15.
Jamie Strong, defending, said Fear had not offended since August last year when he was given a community order.
“It seems to be a case that he has turned the corner. There are documents which reflect a change in his drug use and his enrolment on a college course.
“He is aware he is on a knife-edge, and could have no complaint if he is sent to immediate custody.”