At the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob and Patrick see Mr. Krabs watching a 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 stole (a barrel from Salty Sea Farms, a towel from the Sizzling Spring Sauna, a Bikini Bell phone, 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 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.
( ‣ ) Associated production music
( • ) Original music
( ◦ ) SpongeBob music
‣Slick in the City - Kenny Graham [title card] ‣Villains and Vampires (a) - Sam Fonteyn [Crustacean Crime Theater] ‣Dirty Work at the Crossroads - Sam Fonteyn [Crustacean Crime Theater] ‣The Rake Hornpipe - Robert Alexander White [Krabs watching TV] •Gator - Steve Belfer [SpongeBob, Patrick in the park] ‣ ? [harp music when Patrick sees balloons] ‣Dance of the Lights - Buddy Baker [riding a rainbow] ‣ ? ["Yeah, like Mr. Krabs!"] ‣Honolulu March - George de Fretes [saying all the things they're gonna do with the balloon] ‣Dramatic Cue (a) - Ronald Hanmer [they scream] ‣Flight in Panic 1 - Gregor F. Narholz [putting the balloon back together] ‣Life or Death - Jack Beaver ["We can't return it!"] ‣Hit and Run - Ralph Dollimore [SpongeBob and Patrick running away] ‣Hawaiian Farewell - George Elliott ["Take a last look, Patrick."] ‣Lonely Violin - Dick Stephen Walter [SpongeBob lists all the things they won't see anymore] ‣On the Beach - Kapono Beamer [upside of being a fugitive] ‣Hawaiian Link (b) - Richard Myhill [SpongeBob and Patrick hug] ‣ ? [shot of candy bars] •Seaweed - Steve Belfer [Patrick accuses SpongeBob of stealing his candy bar] ‣House of Horror - W. Merrick Farran [SpongeBob teases Patrick with the candy bar] ‣Catwalk - Kenny Graham ["Or did your criminal mind hypnotize me to steal it?"] ‣The Hurry Up - Kenny Graham ["Not if I tell on you first!"] • ? - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [running to the police station] • ? - Jeremy Wakefield ["We stole a balloon!"] ‣Dramatic Cue (e) - Ronald Hanmer [SpongeBob and Patrick locked up] ‣Hawaiian Pussycat - George de Fretes [ending]
SpongeBob and Patrick think they are wanted criminals because they "borrowed" a balloon and popped it by accident and thought they stole something they can't return which is ironic because it was Free Balloon Day.
The episode was originally called Partners in 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 a later episode Krusty Love, Mr. Krabs and Mrs. Puff meet for the first time, yet in this episode, Mr. Krabs steals from her. This episode might have took place after that episode.
Patrick says that he has hold of the air even though he is underwater.
Mr. Krabs would have been arrested if caught while stealing the items.
In later airings, the word spoken by SpongeBob was fixed from "nailed" to "mail".
The original airing had SpongeBob saying "No more getting nailed", followed by Patrick hammering a nail into his head. SpongeBob's line was changed to "No more getting mail" due to sexual references.
The scene where a very fat Patrick says "You took my only food. Now I'm gonna starve!" is popular in Youtube poops. It's been commonly called Morbid Patrick.
This episode was probably inspired by the criminal drama series, Law & Order.
SpongeBob and Patrick say "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 Disney movie, The Jungle Book.
When Mr. Krabs says "Eel in the kelp", this is a reference to the phrase "Snake in the grass".
SpongeBob and Patrick's campfire is extinguished when Patrick realizes that a fire can't exist underwater, a principle that is often completely disregarded in other episodes, such as 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.
In some scenes in this episode, the red line under SpongeBob's mouth disappears.
If you look closely, when SpongeBob says "We can loosen our ties" and plays with his tie, it turns pink at one point.