Keon Sanderson, from Birstall, was part of a three-strong gang that carried out the raid in a lorry park at Gloucester Services on the M5 in the early hours of May 4.
As the female driver slept in her cab, the trio cut open the lorry’s side and removed seven of the 19 pallets of chewing gum before placing it inside their own lorry.
They were chased along the M5 to Cheltenham, where they left the motorway and drove the wrong way along the A40 before abandoning their lorry near a BMW dealership and fleeing on foot.
The defendant and a second man, 20-year-old Ellis Benecke, were arrested soon after.
Sanderson later pleaded guilty to theft, possession of cannabis and failing to provide a breath test or sample of blood or urine for analysis.
At his sentencing hearing at Gloucester Crown Court, Mandla Ndlou, defending, said the defendant had been coerced into participating in the theft to pay off a debt.
The court heard that while Sanderson was originally thought to have been the getaway driver, police now accept that was not the case.
Handing Sanderson 10 months in jail suspended for 18 months, recorder judge Richard Mawhinney said: “This was a sophisticated and planned operation to identify a vehicle from which goods were to be stolen.”
Sanderson was ordered to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work and was disqualified from driving for 18 months for refusing to take a breathalyser test.
Benecke, of Aysgarth Road, Leeds, was sentenced for theft and possession of cannabis.
Benecke, who admitted taking part in the theft to settle a drugs debt, was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.