Tendai Dlamini was told that there would be “dire consequences” if he committed any further offences over the next two years.
Handing him a suspended 18 month jail term, Recorder Paul Greaney QC said: “Even if you just steal a bag of crisps from a newsagents, that suspended sentence will be activated. You will go straight to prison.”
Leeds Crown Court had heard how 37-year-old Dlamini was involved in the theft of post from six addresses on Thorner Lane in Scarcroft on October 31, 2016.
He was arrested later that day after one resident, whose credit card had been fraudulently used, called police with the description of a man he believed may be responsible.
Dlamini was stopped by police as he left the New Inn pub in Scarcroft and dumped a handful of post as he fled.
A jacket recovered nearby was found to contain Dlamini’s wallet and the resident’s stolen credit card.
Dlamini, of Ingle Avenue, Morley, admitted six counts of theft and one of handling stolen goods.
The prosecution accepted his account that he had been given the card inside the pub by the men running the scam and had not used it.
Robert Stevenson, mitigating, said Dlamini came to the UK from Zimbabwe as an asylum seeker in 2001.
He was granted leave to remain but cannot legally work or claim any benefits.
Mr Stevenson said: “He fell into debt, didn’t have the money to repay, was being put under some pressure by his creditors and it’s against that backdrop he agreed to be involved in that set of offences.
“He is not a leader. He is a mere foot soldier.”
The court heard Dlamini was also the principle carer for his sister, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
He was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours unpaid work and a three month curfew.
Mr Greaney said: “You mustn’t think you’ve got away lightly. You must stay out of trouble for the next two years or there will be dire consequences for you.”