INWOOD — Oh, barnacles!
A thief with an affinity for SpongeBob SquarePants is on the loose after stealing inflatable man-sized holiday decorations of the Nickelodeon cartoon character from outside two Seaman Avenue apartment buildings, residents say.
Neighbors say the two squarepants-nappings took place within five days of each other in early December.
"It could be someone who doesn't like [SpongeBob], or he likes him too much," said Pat Lopez, whose wife Pilar purchased the decoration to stand outside their home.
Lopez, who has lived in his building for 35 years, said that the decoration was stolen Dec. 13.
"I came out and the first thing I noticed was that SpongeBob was missing," said Lopez, who reported the theft to the building's super.
Some sleuthing led Lopez, the former head of the Inwood Patrol neighborhood watch, to an apartment a few doors down that had its own SpongeBob decoration stolen on Dec. 9, according to residents.
Mike Mehovic, the super of the building targeted on Dec. 9, said that one of his tenants saw a group of teenagers make off with the decoration.
"It's just kids," he said.
Neither theft was reported to police.
Both buildings are highly decked-out for the holidays, with several inflatables and lights adorning their facades. In both cases, the SpongeBob was the only thing taken.
Pilar Lopez, who has decorated her home for Christmas for 30 years, said she found the situation humorous, but added she is not in a rush to spend another $27.99 for a replacement.
"We're not going to put out another one, because they'll take it," Lopez said with a laugh. "I don't want to try."