An ex-businessman living in his car stole bedding, E45 cream and shampoo to "survive" a court heard.
Giuseppe Licastri told police he was homeless and had no benefits.
Miss Catherine Allan (prosecuting) said: "He said it was just to clean himself and keep himself warm."
Burnley magistrates were told the 54-year-old former construction firm boss took the goods, worth about £90, from Wilko and Superdrug in the town on September 7th.
Miss Allan said Licastri told police he has arthritis, diabetes and psoriasis and took the cream for his skin condition. The stolen items were recovered.
Mr John Rusius (defending) told the court Licastri had a successful business "once upon a time" but it failed. He had tried to keep afloat for his employees and borrowed a substantial sum of money. The lenders charged rather extortionate rates of interest and he lost his home.
The solicitor continued: "He lost his family. He lost everything really and since that time, life has been very difficult for him. He has now managed to get further temporary work. He's doing his best in difficult circumstances."
Licastri, care of Padiham Road, Burnley, admitted two counts of theft. He was given a nine-month conditional discharge and must pay a victim surcharge.