CCTV cameras captured Wayne Harvey scaling a fence on the Old Mill Lane industrial estate in Mansfield Woodhouse at 1.20am on May 26, said prosecutor Fatima Laher.
Police found the cabling in the street, with Harvey lying on the ground nearby while carrying a pair of wire-strippers and two torches.
The offence put him in breach of a 23-week sentence for handling stolen goods and driving while disqualified, suspended for 12 months, on July 7, last year.
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Simon Walton, mitigating, said: "The value of the copper wiring to the owner was zero. They put it in the skip.
"It's been almost treated as abandoned property. When it was returned to the owner it was skipped again."
He said Harvey bought a white van for £100 in May 2020, which later turned out to be stolen.
The court was told the suicide of Harvey's father sparked a downward spiral in his life and led to 18 years of heroin abuse.
But he stopped using hard drugs after he began a relationship and became a father, Mr Walton said.
He said the theft was committed on the spur of the moment after Harvey spotted the wiring and thought he could get £10 for it.
"Probation are happy with his progress," Mr Walton added. "He had done his best to stay out of trouble.
"Putting him in prison is not going to assist with his desperate desire to stay free of drugs."
Probation officer Cheryl Nisbett said Harvey admitted taking about £5 of amphetamine each week and recommended a thinking skills course to help him put his ‘criminal career to bed’.
Harvey, 42, of Gedling Street, admitted theft by finding when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court on Thursday.
Magistrates told him they decided to step back from sending him to prison. He received a 12-month community order with a 31-day thinking skills course.
He was also fined £50 and ordered to pay a £95 surcharge and £85 court costs.