Leon Nicholson and another man stole the Mercedes A Class from a house in the West Park area of Hartlepool on May 6 while the owner was asleep in bed.
Luckily, it was fitted with a tracking device and the car was quickly traced to Gateshead and South Shields where it was stopped by police.
Nicholson, 27, who was disqualified from driving, was behind the wheel with his co-accused and a female passenger.
Peter Sabiston, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “The owner placed the car keys inside the house next to the front door.”
He was awoken just over an hour later by his father who told him the car had been stolen but he was able to track its movements.
The police found it at about 11.40pm.
Nicholson, who has more than 120 offences on his record, claimed he had bought the car.
He later admitted burglary, driving while disqualified and theft of the car.
Damian Broadbent, mitigating, said the intrusion into the house was “limited” with Nicholson reaching in with his arm to take the car keys.
The victim said in a statement: “The thought of someone coming into my home without permission is scary.”
Mr Broadbent added Nicholson had had an unstable childhood in care, and his mental health was badly affected by the death of his fiancee and baby daughter.
The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Paul Watson, jailed Nicholson, of Arkwright Street, Newcastle, for 32 months.
He was also banned from driving for 26 months.