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