Simon Hope had filled up cannisters of fuel at the Hebburn Service Station in South Tyneside, in July 2019, put them into the back of his car and drove off.
Newcastle Crown Court heard he got away down a dead-end street but his vehicle was followed by a member of staff, on foot.
Prosecutor Omar Ahmed told the court: "She saw him moving the canisters from the back of the car to his boot.
"He went to exit the street but was blocked by a van after she asked workers to block the street.
"He attempted to leave by driving up at speed into the path of the van but was detained at the scene."
Hope, 29, of Newbolt Court, Gateshead, admitted making off without payment.He also pleaded guilty to taking drugs into HMP Northumberland on the same day.Hope had passed an illegal package, containing two types of tablets, to a prisoner during a visit.
The inmate was seen putting the item down his trousers.
Hope said he was "under pressure" and had been threatened by dealers he owed a large drugs debt to at the time.
The court heard he has now stopped using drugs and works full time.
Miss Recorder Davies said in the "exceptional circumstances" of Hope's improved circumstances in the time that has passed since the offences his jail term could be suspended.
Hope was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation and programme requirements.