Anthony Gawthorp, 24, had dropped his mobile phone at a house in Cambridge where he stole a laptop from, and he contacted the police to report it after he found it missing.
The police, who received the call before they found it at the crime scene, checked the photos it contained, and recognised him from his three previous convictions for housebreaking.
"The defendant's picture was on the phone. When the police were looking at it, he sent a text message saying 'Whoever has got my phone better give it back'," the Daily Mail quoted Prosecutor Sara Walker as saying.
He tried to give officers a false alibi and claimed his phone had disappeared 90 minutes before the crime, and he continued to lie even at Cambridge Crown Court.
He told the court that he had stood outside the house and used the phone to illuminate the inside while an accomplice stole a laptop.
But Judge Anthony Bate refused to accept his not guilty plea and pointed out the evidence suggested he had been in the house.
The evidence against him included his phone and the lights, which had been left on, making a mockery of his claim that he used the mobile phone's light to guide his accomplice's way.
Gawthrop subsequently admitted the offence has now been told to expect a "substantial" prison sentence.
"This was an unusual case because the offender actually reported his phone was missing before it turned up at the scene of the burglary," Detective Constable Naomi Weir said.
"We're very happy that Anthony Gawthrop has pleaded guilty at such an early stage and that a prolific burglar has been taken off the streets," Weir added.
Gawthrop, who now lives with his girlfriend in Cambridge, has been remanded in custody for the latest offence and will be sentenced on October 6. (ANI)