Daryl Owen Smith took the box to Poundland in Sunderland city centre on December 13 in a bid to evade the store’s security system, South Tyneside magistrates heard.
However, the 28-year-old from Jarrow was caught in the act and he was arrested and charged.
Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said: “He was stopped after committing the theft and the goods were recovered.
“It is a £5 theft but he was also in possession of this foil-lined container.
“We all know the reason for this was to try and hoodwink the security measures in the shop.”
He added: “The defendant fully admitted taking the Ambipur.
“He said ‘I made this foil-lined box to get a few quid to feed my girlfriend. We are both on benefits and have both been sanctioned, so I stole this air freshener’.”
Mr Anderson said Smith also told police he had the foil-lined box to prevent the alarm from going off to stop him being detained.”
Smith, of Inverness Road, Jarrow, pleaded guilty to theft and going equipped for theft.
Representing himself he told the court he did not oppose the application of forfeiture and destruction of the tinfoil-lined box.
He said: “I only had it to take the air freshener. It’s served its purpose.
“I’m not a persistent offender. I’ve only done it as a one-off.”
Bench chairman Neil Woodward said: “You admitted that the box was designed for a certain purpose.
“We know that and you know that.”
Smith was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £30 surcharge.