November 28, 2020

roof

A Florida man who strapped a light pole to the roof of his car on a highway has been arrested on charges of grand theft, authorities said.

Douglas Allen Hatley, 71, was pulled over on a Tampa roadway on Monday after another driver reported that a maroon Toyota Camry was hauling a metal pole – nearly double the length of the car – on its roof, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

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Hatley said he found the pole on the ground by the side of the highway and wanted to sell the metal for scrap, according to troopers.

In this photo provided by the Florida Highway Patrol a downed power pole is strapped to the roof of a car, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, on Interstate 4, in Hillsborough County, Fla. (Florida Highway Patrol via AP)

In this photo provided by the Florida Highway Patrol a downed power pole is strapped to the roof of a car, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, on Interstate 4, in Hillsborough County, Fla. (Florida Highway Patrol via AP)

A driver told authorities they had seen Hatley tie the light pole to his car roof a few miles away on Interstate 4 near the Interstate 75 interchange.

Troopers told Hatley that a highway maintenance worker had reported the pole stolen, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Hatley was being held on $2,000 bond. (Hillsborough County Jail via AP)

Hatley was being held on $2,000 bond. (Hillsborough County Jail via AP)

The 71-year-old Lakeland man said he didn’t realize that it was illegal to remove broken utility and light poles from the side of the road.

Hatley was arrested and charged with grand theft. He was being held on $2,000 bond. A passenger in the car was not charged.

Hatley told troopers that he had found the pole on the ground by the side of the highway and had planned to sell the metal for scrap, according to the report. (Florida Highway Patrol via AP)

Hatley told troopers that he had found the pole on the ground by the side of the highway and had planned to sell the metal for scrap, according to the report. (Florida Highway Patrol via AP)

Jail records didn’t list an attorney who could comment on the case.

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Hatley has a long rap sheet, having been arrested 48 times in Florida since 1971 on charges such as grand theft, burglary and probation violation, the paper reported, citing state criminal history records.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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.

Douglas Alan Hatley, 71, of Lakeland, was arrested in the theft of a downed Interstate 4 power pole.
Douglas Alan Hatley, 71, of Lakeland, was arrested in the theft of a downed Interstate 4 power pole. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office ]

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.

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