Anthony Wilkinson, 36, got into the house through a kitchen window last November and helped himself to the keys to a Renault Clio, a television and some trainers.
The victim was woken up by the intrusion and saw him running down the street, holding something, when she looked out.
Prosecutor Helen Towers told Newcastle Crown Court: "She shouted 'what are you doing'.
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"He dropped the large item he was carrying and got into her car and drove away."
The court heard the item Wilkinson had dropped was his cousin's television set and her trainers were also found outside.
Wilkinson, of Deemers Road, Hendon, Sunderland, who lost an eye during an attack while serving a previous prison sentence, pleaded guilty to burglary,taking without consent, driving while disqualified and with no insurance.
He also admitted breach of a restraining order, imposed to keep him away from an ex partner, after he turned up "shouting and screaming" outside her home in February.
Fiona Lamb, defending, said Wilkinson was going through a "very hard time" when he committed the offences and added: "He went off the rails and started taking Valium and committed the burglary when he was high.
"I don't think there was much thinking, frankly.
"I don't think the defendant was in a good place."
Judge Stephen Earl sentenced Wilkinson, who has previous convictions, to a total of 31 months behind bars.