David Sam Soley, stole items worth £2,700 during the incident in May and was caught when officers recognised Soley from CCTV.
The 36-year-old appeared via videolink at Teesside Crown Court this morning after pleading guilty to burglary.
The court heard how Soley, Of Brougham Street, Darlington, already had eight previous convictions for house burglaries and sentenced him to three years and four months in prison.
Detective Constable Grace Holohan, of Darlington CID, said: “Burglary is a despicable crime which can have lasting consequences and was made even worse in this instance as the victim was ill in hospital at the time of the offence.
“We hope this sentence gives the victim some closure.