A HOMELESS man tried to steal three duvets from a city centre store.
Anthony Reay attempted to walk out of Wilkinson in Sunderland, but was stopped by security staff and police were called.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson told Sunderland magistrates that the offence took place 12 days after a court had imposed a conditional discharge for another theft offence.
Tom Morgan, defending, said Reay admitted what he had done to police immediately.
He said the 38-year-old alcoholic lost all his possessions in a house fire, and did not have any insurance to claim on.
He then lost his bank card and was refused access to his new home in the Norfolk Hotel, for not paying his rent.
Mr Morgan added: “Unfortunately, just prior to the commission of this offence, there was a fire in the flat above his flat and the floor fell through and everything he had was destroyed in that fire.”
“He was faced with the decision of whether to sleep on the streets, so he went out and committed this offence.
“It was poor judgement, but at the time it seemed the lesser of two evils.
“He is in breach of a conditional discharge for a similar offence, which was committed in extremes of intoxication.
“The offence he pleaded guilty to last time was picking something up in a nightclub that did not belong to him and leaving with it.
“Faced with a difficult decision, he was unfortunately gone out and committed and offence of theft.”
Reay, now of Azalea Terrace North, was made subject to an 18-month conditional discharge.