This was posted to alt.shenanigans way back in 1996.
This was told to me as a "true story" around 1975 by a friend in an ivy league school . It is the same except that:
1) Three students, one in an M.I.T. t-shirt, One in an M.I.T. sweater, One in an M.I.T. Jacket
2) Cambridge Police stop them as they are sawing through the first 3 of 4 bolts holding the barber pole to the concrete.
3) After 3rd call irate barber screams at watch commander to stop the phone calls or he'll sue, watch commander goes on radio to tell all cars
not to stop the three guys in the M.I.T. T shirt...etc.,
4) Picked up on police scanner at a Harvard Dorm which promptly spews out 20 teams of three in M.I.T. T-shirts... each with bogus receipts from the same barber.
5) By dawn 20 barber poles are stacked in a geometric stack in the Harvard Quadrangle....
Anyone have an older citation?
Another variation, Abbey Hoffman who wrote Steal this book did the same thing with a park bench he bought. He was picked up by the cops many times that day. He show them a reciept of purchase. The cops got on their radios and told the other units not to do anything if they see 2 guys with a bench. Later that night alot of people were stealing benches.
What it all comes down to is, dyslexics have more nuf.