TAMPA — Tying a large power pole onto a small car landed a Lakeland man in jail on grand theft charges, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Douglas Allen Hatley, 71, found the downed power pole along Interstate 4 near the I-75 interchange and tried to sell it for scrap Monday to the Eagle Metals Recycling yard on Harney Road, the Highway Patrol said.
The yard turned Hatley away because he didn’t have proper documentation for the pole. Troopers pulled him over about 11 a.m. at North 50th Street near State Road 60 and took possession of the pole and his car, a 1997 Toyota. A passenger riding with him was not charged.
A video from the Highway Patrol cruiser shows a trooper informing Hatley that the pole had been reported stolen by a highway maintenance worker. He asks Hatley where he got the pole.
“He gave it to me," Hatley replies. "Why didn’t he stop me?”
Later, Hatley is heard on the video saying, “There’s no criminal intent whatsoever here.”
He asks if his friend can drive his car home, and the trooper says no, not with the pole on the roof.
The pole had been tied on with cord that was run through the front bumper and the rear windows.
Hatley remained in the Hillsborough County Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $2,000 bond on a charge of third-degree grand theft, $750-$5,000.
Hatley has been arrested on 48 occasions since 1971, mainly on Polk County charges such as grand theft, burglary and probation violation, according to state criminal history records. His longest sentence, in 2005, was three years and six months in state prison.
He has been arrested twice before on charges related to the fraudulent sale of metals.