Adam Collins was spotted with two other men, loading the batteries into his Ford transit van, by an AA patrolman, on Water Lane, shortly after midnight on September 19.
“The officer sounded his horn but the van made off at speed,” said prosecutor Robert Carr.
“He saw the traffic lights fell out of the back. They were put back, and the van drove off.”
“There was a brief area search and about an hour later, the van was found stuck in a ditch on Moorhaigh Lane, Pleasley.
“The three men were trying to push it out.”
The van, registered to Collins, had no valid MOT certificate or insurance, the court heard, and he tested positive for cocaine at the police station.
Collins later told police he planned to weigh the batteries in for cash, said Mr Carr.
And on January 11, he was identified by an old school mate who saw him stealing alcohol from the Co-Op on Alfreton Road, Sutton.
He failed to turn up to court on January 14, and he missed a drug assessment on September 17.
He was last in court in 2010 for theft from a motor vehicle.
Probation officer Cheryl Nisbet said: “He knew exactly what he was getting into. He understood the implications of what he did on road users.
“It’s all related to his drug use. He relapsed again last year.
“He does have a methadone prescription but is topping up with heroin. He uses cocaine every day.”
Sarah Neale, mitigating, said Collins hopes to volunteer with a Shih Tzu rehoming centre.
Collins, 34, of Forest Road, admitted interfering with road traffic equipment, on October 12, and pleaded guilty to driving without insurance or a test certificate, and failing to surrender, when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Friday.
He was given a 12 month community order, with a six month drug programme and ten rehabilaitation days.
A four month curfew, from 7pm to 7am, was imposed, and he received six points on his licence. He must pay £85 costs and an £85 government surcharge.