SpongeBob SquarePants is missing.
A large, blow-up figure of the popular Nickelodeon channel's cartoon character was stolen Nov. 18 from the Burger King restaurant in Little Falls.
A ransom note was left stating, "We have SpongeBob. Give us ten Crabby Patties, fries and milkshakes," said Little Falls Police Chief Mike Pender. The note was signed by Plankton, SpongeBob's nemesis. The note also said "Patrick is next," a reference to SpongeBob's starfish friend.
Since it was first reported, Pender said he's been shocked by the media attention given to the theft. He said he's taken calls from media outlets in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as well as from a number of Minnesota reporters.
"We have stuff happen, just like any other place, but not where there's this much interest," Pender said. "I wonder if it's not because of the (SpongeBob SquarePants) movie," which was released last week. The blow-up figure was featured at Burger King as part of a promotional tie-in for the movie.
Pender chalked the interest up to a slow news day, and said his officers have taken the attention in stride.
"Fortunately for us, we have a highly trained investigator that deals with nothing but missing cartoon characters," said Pender, with tongue firmly planted in cheek. And SpongeBob kidnappings are on the verge of becoming an epidemic. At a southeast Utah Burger King, vandals made off with a 6-foot-by-10-foot balloon of SpongeBob. Employees are handing out "missing" fliers with a full description of the popular cartoon figure -- featured in a new movie.
(This story includes information from the Associated Press.)
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