Authorities in Wallkill, NY, said photos clearly showed the man trying first to muscle the pole onto the roof of his vehicle, then when that didn't work, they said he tried to stuff the pole inside his minivan.
The pole, arm, and assembly weighed about 300 pounds.
Utility workers confronted the man, asking what he was doing. When electrician Bobby Zayas asked the man where he was going with the pole, the man reportedly said he thought it was garbage on the side of the road and he was taking it.
The man then got in his vehicle and drove away without the pole.
"How can anyone in his right mind attempt in broad daylight to pull this off?" asked John Lippert, Wallkill's Public Works Commissioner.
Had the man been able to sell the pole, he might have gotten $100. If ever caught, he could face felony charges.
As for the light pole, it's serving its purpose, deeply imbedded alongside the highway.