Ionel Lupusoar came to the UK with his girlfriend and “thought the streets were paved with gold”, said his barrister Michael Caine-Soothill.
In reality the 19-year-old found money hard to come by on the streets of South Yorkshire and took up shoplifting, Sheffield Crown Court was told.
Neil Coxon, prosecuting, said Lupusoar was first given a police caution on August 23 for two shop thefts.
Then on September 8 he was seen pushing a trolley round a Tesco store in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, with two others and went through the till without paying with whisky worth £400.
Just three days later he raided two Asda stores in Hull on September 11 and 12 and stole goods worth a total of £1,039.
Lupusoar was given a conditional discharge by magistrates on September 13 as it was his first time before the courts but was then caught stealing from Morrisons in Knottingley, West Yorkshire, on October 12.
He was seen pushing a trolley full of numerous items and made no attempt to pay before he was detained by a security officer.
When interviewed by police he said he had little or no money and was not claiming benefits.
He was charged and bailed to appear at court on October 23 but on October 17 he and two others were caught stealing £287 of perfume and nail polish from Boots in Doncaster’s Frenchgate Centre after leaving without paying.
Lupusoar told police his girlfriend wanted some false nails but they only had £11 and could not afford them so they decided to steal items to sell to raise cash.
He has been remanded in custody for the six weeks since October 18.
Judge Michael Murphy told Lupusoar: “This was organised shoplifting. It was not just on the spur of the moment, it was not just spontaneous. It has to be a custodial sentence.
“I have in mind you want to go back to Romania. I hope it can be done sooner rather than later.”
Lupusoar, of Balby Road, Doncaster, who admitted the shoplifting offences, was sent to a young offenders’ institution for four months and with the 42 days he has already served on remand is expected to be released in a fortnight.
The court was told he will then be sent home.