Samuel Phillips helped himself to £82 of make-up and toiletries from Superdrug, on February 12, but was stopped outside after young girls raised the alarm, said prosecutor Donna Fawcett.
He told police he had split from his girlfriend and was homeless, and needed money for food.
The court heard he missed a drugs assessment on February 22, and failed to turn up for a court appearance on March 15.
Michael Little, mitigating, said: “He found himself back on the street and misusing drink again.
“Alcohol really has been the significant impact on him.
“He relapses whenever anything bad happens.”
But a probation officer told the court Phillips had recently “turned his life around.”
Phillips, 26, of Acacia Court, Forest Town, admitted the thefts, failing to surrender and missing a drugs assessment, when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Wednesday.
District judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “You’re a prolific offender. You are frankly staring down the barrels of going back to prison.
“My colleagues in probation tell me there has been a tremendous change in your attitude in the last few weeks.
“I’m going to give you the opportunity to prove that.”
He told Phillips he would defer sentencing until June 12, providing he complies with all court orders and commits no further offences.