A burglar who began abusing alcohol and drugs when he was just nine, the youngest a judge says he has ever seen, has been sentenced to more than three years' jail.

Dylan Dugdale, 20, broke into and ransacked two properties last year, a builder's shop in Higgins and a home in Holt. Nothing was taken from the shop, but money, jewellery and electronics worth $5275 were stolen from the home.

Dugdale said he needed the money to buy drugs.

The two burglaries happened just three months after Dugdale was given a second chance by the courts for earlier offences, avoiding full-time custody.

In sentencing Dugdale for the crimes on Wednesday, Justice Richard Refshauge expressed disappointment that the man had broken his commitment.

Justice Refshauge noted that Dugdale had started drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis at the age of nine.

The judge said that was the earliest age he had ever seen, and that it mitigated Dugdale's moral culpability to some extent.

Both of his parents used drugs, the court heard, and separated when he was young.

He left school in Year 9, and has had limited employment since.

But Justice Refshauge said Dugdale must start taking responsibility for his own actions, and noted he had already racked up nine convictions in his adult life. He said he'd given Dugdale a ''generous opportunity'' for his earlier crimes, and admitted he was both ''right and wrong'' in that decision.

He said he'd been right to say it would be hard for Dugdale to turn his life around, and wrong to think that he wouldn't see the 20-year-old back before the courts.

The court heard Dugdale had shown some change of attitude while in custody, and a degree of insight into the impact of his crimes.

Justice Refshauge said he was hopeful that Dugdale was at "a turning point" in his life, but retained some scepticism.

''I'm impressed by your commitment, but you gave me a commitment last time, and that lasted three months,'' he said.

''I do hope we won't see you again. I'm less confident than I was, because of what you did to me last time,'' he said.

Dugdale was sentenced to three years and seven months jail, which included punishment for breaching a good behaviour order for earlier offences.

He will be eligible for parole in January 2014.