Mark Reynolds tried to take a 29-year-old woman's handbag as she travelled on the Metro from South Shields and left her with a fractured finger from protecting her own belongings.
The 52-year-old addict left the train at Hebburn and stole a 41-year-old woman's handbag from her shopping trolley as she packed her car at Aldi, then warned her "it's not worth it" when she tried to get it back.
Newcastle Crown Court heard at the time of the offences Reynolds had been back on the streets for just hours after being arrested for "waving around" an axe and a hunting knife in the street after being refused entry into the Premier Shop on Stanhope Road in South Shields.
Reynolds, of no fixed address, who has over 100 previous convictions, admitted possessing the axe and knife, attempted robbery and robbery.
Judge Julie Clemitson sentenced him to a total of three years and three months behind bars.
The court heard the woman travelling on the Metro on September 20 last year had been feeling down and decided to "go out and discover new places" that afternoon.
She noticed Reynolds standing near her and he tried to take her bag, containing cards, cash and her mobile phone, when the train came to a stop.
Her finger was fractured while she resisted his attempt and she said the ordeal has had a "massive" impact on her.
She said in a victim statement: "The worst part is a fear and lack of security I have started to experience."
The court heard Reynolds left the train at Hebburn and headed to Aldi, where he picked up a woman's bag from her trolley as she packed her car with her shopping.
She asked him "what are you doing?" and tried to get her bag back, while screaming for help.
Reynolds told the woman, who thought he was armed, "don't, it's not worth it", which left her afraid he was about to attack her so she let go.
The shopper said in a victim statement she was "in shock" and is now "terrified" of shopping alone.
Reynolds was chased by two men who saw what had happened and dropped the bag and contents before he was arrested by the police who had been called.
He told police he was a "smack head" and confessed: "I am very sorry for what I did, I'm a smack head, please don't arrest me.
"I just need money for some gear."
Reynolds told police he had tried to take the woman's bag on the Metro as he thought it contained food.
Fiona Lamb, defending, said Reynolds developed a heroin addiction after he was the victim of a serious attack in 2003.
Miss Lamb said Reynolds was "extremely malnourished" and weighed just seven stone when he was arrested but has now almost doubled his weight, is drug free and has a job while in custody on remand.
She added: "He doesn't use drugs for fun. It has been a coping mechanism which has unfortunately ruined his life."