Absorbent and yellow and missing is he.
At least three Burger King restaurants have reported thefts of giant SpongeBob SquarePants (search) balloons since a massive cross-promotion campaign with the Paramount/Nickelodeon cartoon movie began last week.
In Moab, Utah, a 6-by-10-foot inflatable statue of the ever-optimistic, blue-eyed sea sponge disappeared from the town Burger King's roof Saturday night. It took a visit by the owner's granddaughter the following afternoon for anyone to notice.
Employees were handing out "Missing" flyers with a full description of the pineapple dweller, presumably making sure to note his neat appearance, shirt, tie and constant smile.
A Sheboygan, Wis., Burger King lost its giant SpongeBob over the weekend as well. Police were brought in to help locate the vanished invertebrate.
In Little Falls, Minn., the SpongeBob swipers left a ransom note last Thursday indicating they were fans of the little — and, for the moment, big — yellow guy.
"We have SpongeBob," the note began, according to WJON-AM of St. Cloud, Minn. "Give us 10 Krabby Patties (search), fries and milkshakes."
The note was signed "Plankton," and bore a postscript: "Patrick is next."
As anyone with small children and cable television knows, SpongeBob works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab (search) fast-food restaurant.
Plankton is the show's, and movie's, megalomaniacal (but very small) villain, while Patrick is SpongeBob's dimwitted, good-hearted starfish neighbor and best friend.
— Thanks to Out There readers George M. and Jake N. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
NBA Brawl Soda Cup Put Up on eBay
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The cup that ignited the biggest brawl in U.S. sports history could have been yours.
An item purported to be the cup thrown from the stands at Indiana Pacers (search) player Ron Artest at an away game in Detroit last Friday night was on eBay for less than 24 hours after bidding went out of control.
The cup, listed for sale by someone from Sterling Heights, Mich., was put up for auction Monday, but the bidding was closed Tuesday afternoon when the price went to $99,999,999.
In the description of the cup, the seller wrote: "No sports collection will be complete without the addition of this vintage championship collector's edition beer cup. Simply a must for all Artest fans."
There also were several photos of the cup hitting Artest, though there is no way to prove its authenticity.
After Artest was hit with the cup, he went into the stands, setting off a melee between players and fans. Artest was suspended for the season, while teammate Stephen Jackson was suspended 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal 25. Ben Wallace of the Pistons also was suspended for six games.
— Thanks to Out There reader Kris P.
Boy Tries to Kidnap Stripper
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A 13-year-old boy was charged with abducting an exotic dancer when she showed up for an appointment at what turned out to be a vacant house with no electricity, police said Monday.
When the woman entered the house at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, she realized her client was a juvenile, police spokeswoman Rene Ball said.
The boy told her the contract was for his older brother, but no one else showed up. The woman tried to leave, and the boy pointed a shotgun at her and ordered her to dance for him, Ball said.
She tried to call 911 on her cell phone, but the boy grabbed the phone. The woman bit the boy's hand, broke free and ran to her car.
The boy was arrested Thursday and charged with abduction by force, conspiracy, using a firearm to commit a felony, brandishing a firearm and transporting and possessing an assault firearm at age 13. He was being held at the Virginia Beach Detention Center.
The names of the woman and the boy were not released.
Police were trying to identify a second juvenile suspected of being involved in the abduction plan.
— Thanks to Out There reader Bill R.
Deer Makes Fatal Detour Into Baggage Claim
CHICAGO (AP) — A deer, its judgment possibly clouded by sexual desire due to rutting season, wandered into the lower level of a passenger terminal at O'Hare International Airport (search) before it was captured.
The incident happened Tuesday morning. The young buck might have entered the airport grounds by following Interstate 190, according to officials.
The animal then entered Terminal 2 through a freight door that opens automatically and approached a baggage claim area, airport officials said. There were no passengers in the area.
Deer are routinely struck by cars in urban areas during the height of mating season, and officials said this one appeared to have been struck by a vehicle before it went to O'Hare.
"It was confused and bewildered and tried to find shelter," said Annette Martinez, a Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman who explained that animal care experts theorized the animal had been pushed out of its herd by other males.
In the terminal, airport workers used plastic construction fencing to contain the deer until animal control officers arrived. The officers used a tranquilizer gun to subdue the deer so that they could assess the animal's injuries.
After the buck was examined, it was euthanized, Martinez said.
Martinez said the deer did not pose any security problems or disrupt services. She also said that nobody at the airport had heard of another deer getting into a terminal before.
Giant Pig Looks Forward to Long Life
HUBBARDSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Bob Peterson has one big pig on his hands.
The hog named Norm, after the character on "Cheers," weighs an estimated 1,600 pounds, stands four feet high and measures seven feet from snout to tail.
Norm lives on Peterson's Madison County farm in central New York. The retired state trooper from Connecticut says the three-year-old hog may be the world's biggest pig.
Heather Sweeney, a livestock specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension in neighboring Oneida County, says a three-year-old pig normally would top out at 500 pounds.
Word has spread among Peterson's farmer neighbors, and scores of them have showed up to get a look at the big pig.
Peterson says Norm will never wind up as bacon. The pig has become a mascot for his farm and Peterson says the huge porker will live out the rest of his life without being sold for meat.
Elderly Pair Sends Purse Snatcher to Hospital
OSLO, Norway (AP) — A purse snatcher in a small Norwegian town picked the wrong 88-year-old woman to rob, since she was with a tough younger man at the time.
And her 78-year-old friend ended up sending the thief to the hospital, and then to jail last week, the local newspaper Moss Avisen reported last Friday.
The report said the thief was on a bicycle when he snatched the purse in Raade, a small town about 30 miles south of Oslo.
The 78-year-old man reacted instantly, grabbing hold of the purse and struggling with the 30-year-old thief.
During the struggle, the senior citizen dragged the young man off his bike and onto the asphalt.
The stunned thief got up — bleeding profusely from a cut on his head — and staggered off, still clutching the woman's wallet which he had pulled from the purse.
Police quickly located him and took him to a hospital, where he needed seven stitches.
The suspect was detained pending indictment on the purse snatching, police said.
Neither the woman, her defender or the would-be purse snatcher were identified.
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.
Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We'd like to know about it. Send an e-mail, with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things), to firstname.lastname@example.org.