A former employee at car giant Nissan returned to the plant to steal a car.
Robert Rafferty got into his former place of work by following other employees through their entry turnstile, Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard.
Magistrates were told that Rafferty, 28, stole a number of keys from a staff locker room and drove off in one of the worker’s cars.
Justin Gibson, prosecuting, said: “Once he got inside the plant, Rafferty appears to have made his way to a staff locker room.
“From there, he stole several sets of keys belonging to workers who were on shift at the time.
“He then made his way to the employees’ car park, got into a Nissan Micra using one of the stolen keys, then left the plant in the car. A few hours later, a police patrol saw the car being driven along Kier Hardie Way in Sunderland.
“Rafferty drove the wrong side of a pedestrian refuge and through a red light, before entering the car park of Tesco in Monkwearmouth.
“He fled on foot, but was arrested after a short chase.”
When interviewed by police, Rafferty said: “I took a set of keys and drove a car.
“I’ve been a silly lad.”
Rafferty, 28, of Swan Lodge, High Street East, Sunderland, admitted burglary, taking without the owner’s consent, careless driving, driving with no insurance, and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence, all on February 22.
Heather Bolton, defending, said: “Mr Rafferty was at a very low ebb at the time, suffering from depression.
“Nissan asked him to leave because they were not able to support him. He returned to the plant to visit a friend.
“Taking the keys was a spur of the moment thing for which he has no other explanation.
“His record of offending is limited, and these are his first offences of dishonesty.”
Rafferty was sentenced to a 12-month community order. He was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work, and pay £145 costs and court surcharge.
The magistrates also added six penalty points to his provisional driving licence.