Leon Cooper, aged 25, stole a van after breaking into a property on Newthorpe Common, Eastwood, and taking the key at around midnight on March 21.
His luck run out shortly before 3pm the following day when he was spotted driving the van by an unmarked police car in Moorgreen and pulled over.
As he was led away, Cooper claimed to have found the vehicle unlocked on the driveway with the keys in the ignition – a line he stuck to in his police interview.
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However, Cooper, of Warwick Road, Somecotes, later admitted burglary and aggravated vehicle taking.
He was jailed for 10 months for the burglary and 14 weeks consecutively for the vehicle taking when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court.
Nicola Wiley, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “This kind of offence has a significant impact on victims who have their homes and lives violated.
"Cooper thought he could walk into somebody else’s house, steal their vehicle and get away with it.
“Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t reckoned on coming to the attention of the unmarked police car that proved to be his undoing.
“I am pleased he has now received a jail sentence and hope this case serves as a warning to others who think they can get away with driving stolen vehicles on our streets.”