"Mindless behaviour" were the words the judge used to describe a man who stole his friend's partner's car to do burnouts on a busy intersection.

Richard Malcolm pleaded guilty to unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle and sustained loss of traction when he appeared in the Whanganui District Court on Thursday.

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Stephen Butler said on November 16 around 9pm Malcolm took the car to do burnouts and doughnuts on Polson St and Cross St outside the Castlecliff Hotel.

"He lost control of the vehicle leaving tyre marks on the road . . . he caused so much damage to the rear wheels they had to be replaced," Mr Butler said.

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Defence lawyer Jamie Waugh said it was his first burnout type offending and he accepted that it was a childish act.

"The cost of damage for the tyres was estimated to be around $300 and Mr Malcolm has paid for new tyres.

Judge Philip Crayton convicted Malcolm and sentenced him to 180 hours of community work and disqualified his drivers' licence for six months.