The episode starts at the Krusty Krab, where SpongeBob and Patrick see Mr. Krabs watching the classic crime movie. Mr. Krabs starts to talk about how bad thieves and stealing are, but then SpongeBob and Patrick remind him of all the things he has stolen: a barrel from Salty Sea Farms, a towel from the Sizzling Spring Sauna, a Bikini Bell phone, Sandy's hedge-clippers, Plankton's lawnmower, and Mrs. Puff's hair curlers. Mr. Krabs makes the excuse that he "borrowed" everything, and tells them that it is okay to borrow anything as long as you give it back before it is missed.
Later that day, SpongeBob and Patrick see a balloon stand. But since they do not have any 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 cannot 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 do not have anything to eat, and SpongeBob reveals that he has two candy bars, which Patrick thinks they are "rectangles," SpongeBob says that they will "only have to make them last the rest of their lives." However, Patrick immediately eats his in 2 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 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 then 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 locked up. However, the police immediately release them, telling them that they stole the balloon on "National Free Balloon Day," much to the officers' amusement. SpongeBob and Patrick vow that they will never take 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.
Originally, this episode was titled "Partners in Crime," but it was later changed to this title while keeping the last word "crime."
When Krabs mentioned the phrase "forced to breathe air," it is a reference to the fact that sea creatures cannot survive without water.
In "Krusty Love" (The episode takes place after that episode), Mr. Krabs and Mrs. Puff meet for the first time, yet Mr. Krabs steals the hair curlers from her.
The original airing had SpongeBob saying "No more getting nailed," followed by Patrick hammering a nail into his head.
In all other airings, due to the word "nailed" being considered a sexual slang, SpongeBob's line was revoiced from that to "No more getting mail," and Patrick hamming a nail was reanimated from that to him sucking his thumb in his mouth. Patrick's part may have been edited to prevent kids from imitating this.
However, Patrick was allowed to nail himself in "My Pretty Seahorse," so it is possible this was edited because Patrick hammering himself (in the original airing, which was after SpongeBob's line, "No more getting nailed") would not make sense in context with SpongeBob's censored line ("No more getting mail").
The scene where a very fat Patrick says "You took my only food. Now I'm gonna starve!" is popular in some YouTube Poops. It has been called Morbid Patrick.
This episode premiered on John Rhys-Davies' 57th birthday.
In the Croatian dub, the episode name is "Zločinci" translating to "Criminals."
In the Polish dub, the episode's title is "Zbrodnicze życie" translating to "The Criminal Life."
SpongeBob and Patrick said "I don't know what do you wanna do today?" to each other several times consecutively. This mimics the Vultures' line "What we're gonna do?" from the 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book.
When Mr. Krabs says "Eel in the kelp," this is a reference to "Snake in the grass."
At one part of the episode where SpongeBob says, "take one last look," while looking at the town at sunset, the view angle is similar to Konami's Castlevania and Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden series.
The plot was very similar to the Hey Arnold! episode, "On the Lam," where SpongeBob and Patrick thinking that they stole the balloon on free balloon day is a crime and trying to avoid trouble is similar to Harold, Stinky, and Sid escaping the punishment after they thought they blew up the police station.
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.
Because of the National Free Balloon Day, every balloon is gonna give away for free, which means the brown balloon was likely given to someone off-screen.
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.
In some scenes, the red line under SpongeBob's mouth disappears.
When SpongeBob says "We can loosen our ties" and plays with his tie, it turns pink for less than a second.
When Patrick says "I think I'll eat it now", he accidentally bites his hand but doesn't cry like he did when he accidentally bit his own thumb in Grandma's Kisses.
It's possible either Patrick didn't bite as hard this time or the only reason Patrick was crying in Grandma's Kisses was because Patrick was having too much fun being a baby.