A burglar stole cash that had been saved up for Christmas presents when he raided a living area above a city pub.
Serial criminal Mark Dixon, who has 198 offences on his record, entered three rooms above The Establishment in Sunderland and helped himself to £345 in cash as well as a lap top containing personal information and irreplaceable photographs.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 41-year-old, who had been back on the streets for just four days after his last prison sentence, had disturbed one of the occupants while he was asleep on December 3 last year.
Prosecutor Neil Jones told the court: "He was awoken with a start by the sound of a ladder dropping and falling.
"What he saw, in the darkened room, was a figure, rummaging through his drawers."
The court heard Dixon left when he realised he had been seen and when the other two occupants arrived back at the property they found their belongings had been moved or taken.
Mr Jones added: "Bearing in mind, it was the lead up to Christmas, these young people had been saving their cash for Christmas presents."
Mr Jones said the victims had taken a long time to save for the festive season and added: "It was by no means trivial to them."
The court heard one of the victims moved out of the property after the break-in.
Dixon, of Exeter Street, Sunderland, admitted burglary.
Mr recorder Christopher Williams sentenced him to 21 months behind bars.
The judge told him: "It was particularly mean in that it occurred in the run up to Christmas."
Nicholas Lane, defending, said Dixon had found out his long-term relationship had ended when he got out of prison and resorted to taking valium.
Mr Lane said: "That is what led him to behave in the way he has."
Mr Lane said Dixon has "no recollection at all" of the break-in and had not realised there was living accommodation above the bar.