Is it all about the eBay economy, Dick Cheney? Is it a frat boy prank? Or is it a Burger King PR landslide? Armchair detective, peruse for clues. Inflatable SpongeBob Characters Disappearing From Burger Kings. I drive past one here in Durham every day. I’ll keep an eye on this one to see if it disappears. I haven’t ever watched SpongeBob; this thing is so damn ugly that I cannot imagine wanting to take one. ( – FL)

There is a nationwide rash of thefts of 9-foot-tall and 9-foot-wide SpongeBob SquarePants inflatables propped on the roofs of Burger Kings.

More than 50 SpongeBob-nappings have been reported from Florida to Utah since the pop icon started appearing on fast-food restaurant rooftops in a promotional tie-in with his movie Nov. 11. Employees at a Burger King near Palatka are among the latest to report the theft of the $500 balloon last weekend.

“We don’t have any theories. SpongeBob SquarePants is kind of a fad. It could be a childhood prank or an adult trying to get a fad item for Christmas,” Putnam County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Rose said Wednesday. “If any leads come across, we will follow up in hopes of making an arrest.”

…”From a marketing point of view, stealing generates value,” he said. “They will show up in fraternity houses for sure.”

Burger King is not actively pursuing the missing inflatables, said a Burger King spokesman, who refused to be identified.

“At the moment, it is sort of a very amusing phenomenon. We hope it is just a prank, and the SpongeBobs come back.”

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding