At the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob and Patrick see Mr. Krabs watching a crime movie. Mr. Krabs starts to talk about how bad thieves are, but then SpongeBob and Patrick remind him of all the things he stole (a barrel from Salty Sea Farms, a towel from the Sizzling Spring Sauna, a Bikini Bellphone, Sandy's hedge-clippers, Plankton's lawn mower, and Mrs. Puff's hair curlers). Mr. Krabs makes the excuse that he "borrowed" everything, and tells them that it's okay to borrow anything as long as you give it back before it's missed.
Later that day, SpongeBob and Patrick see a balloon stand. Since they have no money, they decide to "borrow" a balloon. They sneak away with it, and as they talk about all the fun things they plan to do with it, it suddenly pops. Realizing that they can't return the balloon, they conclude that they have stolen it. Believing that this is a serious crime and that they are now wanted criminals, they leave Bikini Bottom.
That night, they camp in the middle of nowhere, and lament that they will never see any of their friends or do any of the fun things they used to do again. However, they then begin to look at the positives, such as not having to live by society's standards and not having to return anything they borrow, and realize that being criminals can be fun.
Patrick says that they still don't have anything to eat, and SpongeBob reveals that he has two candy bars, saying that they will "only" have to make them last the rest of their lives. However, Patrick immediately eats his in two bites, and then tries to take another bite of it, not realizing that it is gone. When he sees SpongeBob's bar, he accuses him of stealing it, and although SpongeBob tries to explain to Patrick that he ate his, he refuses to believe him and decides to tell on him when SpongeBob eats the candy bar. SpongeBob then tells Patrick that he will tell on him first, when Patrick stomps on the campfire and said, "That's It!" and burns his foot. They begin to go racing to the police station.
Once there, they both confess together, and the officers whisper to each other before they are are locked up. However, the police immediately release them, telling them that they stole the balloon on "National Free Balloon Day". SpongeBob and Patrick vow that they will never borrow anything without permission ever again, and the officers give them lollipops for the trip back home. Patrick eats his in one bite, and accuses SpongeBob and the police of stealing it. They laugh a bit, but then Patrick says he means it.
- This episode was probably inspired by the police drama series Law & Order.
- When Mr. Krabs says "Eel in the kelp", this is a reference to the phrase "Snake in the grass".
- When Krabs mentioned the phrase "forced to breathe air," it is a reference to the fact sea creatures that they cannot survive without water.
- In the later episode "Krusty Love", Mr. Krabs and Mrs. Puff meet for the first time, yet in this episode, Mr. Krabs steals from her.
- SpongeBob and Patrick's campfire is extinguished when Patrick realizes that a fire cannot exist underwater, a principle that is often completely disregarded in other episodes, such as "Party Pooper Pants" and "The Camping Episode".
- At one scene, the balloon is brown instead of red. *When Patrick first looks at the balloons, there is a brown one, but when Patrick looks again, the brown balloon disappears.
- In one scene after the fire goes out, when Patrick says "You took my only food! Now I'm gonna starve," he is lit like the fire is still burning.
- SpongeBob SquarePants Wiki: Life of Crime
- "Life of Crime" at the Internet Movie Database
- Life of Crime at TV.com
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