A pair of no talent assclowns, Eddie Folsom and Sy Barnard, are planning a big score. Eddie's wife, Kathy, thinks it's a bank robbery but she's mistaken. They've pulled a snatch--kidnapping a teenaged boy whom they think is the son of wealthy businessman Douglas King and plan to ransom him back to his father for the princely sum of $250,000.00. Kathy doesn't like the idea and tells Eddie and Sy that they're both out of their minds.
Eddie and Kathy get into a full blown argument. Sy takes credit for the idea and tells Eddie to make his wife chill out. Meanwhile, at the home of Douglas King, he and his wife, Diane, are celebrating a big business deal when Sy calls with the ransom demand. There's only one problem--King's son, Bobby, is safe and sound in the house with his parents. The boy kidnapped by the pair of losers happens to be Jeff Reynolds, the son of King's chauffeur.
Despite being warned not to do so, King contacts the police. Detectives Carella and Havilland arrive on the scene from the 87th Precinct. Carella and King immeidately get into an argument over how to handle things with King snidely referring to the detective as "Caretta."
Back at their hideout, the three kidnappers are listening in--so to speak. Eddie is a radio buff who owns a police scanner so they can listen in to police calls. Over the scanner, they learn that King has contacted the police and that they've grabbed the wrong boy. Sy keeps insisting that the boy is Bobby King but when they pull the gag out of his mouth the boy insists that his name is Jeff Reynolds.
Not to worry, says Sy. They'll ask for a ransom anyway regardless of the identity of their victim. Back at the King mansion, a phone company representative named Cassidy has installed several phones so that the police can trace and listen in on phone conversations.
Sy calls King again and says he doesn't care who the boy is. They still want the $250,000.00. Jeff's father is very distraught but Diane King manages to calm his nerves. Alone, King tells his wife that he doesn't want to pay the ransom. After all, the victim isn't his son and raising the money would jeopardize his big business deal. He needs the cash for that. Diane says his not paying the ransom would be tantamount to committing murder.
In the meanwhile, Sy, Eddie, and Kathy begin arguing amongst themselves. Kathy is afraid Sy is planning to kill Jeff. Eddie says that's not so. When Eddie leaves to buy some cigarettes and Sy is upstairs napping, Kathy unties and ungags Jeff intending to set him free. Sy intercepts them and ties up Jeff again.
At the King mansion, King is paid a visit by a con man named Adrian Score who claims he knows the whereabouts of the kidnap victim and can arrange for Jeff's release--for the sum of $5,000.00. Havilland and Carella then enter and Score is shoved out the door by Havilland. Carella then tells King that Score is only the beginning. Every kook in the city will soon be coming out of the woodworks.
Sy then calls King who lies and says he has the money. Sy then gives him instructions for the ransom drop. The police are unable to trace the call. King then drives toward the drop site with Carella hunkered down in the back seat of his car. Eddie then calls King on his car phone using a radio transmitter. He then gives directions to the ransom drop site.
Carella leaves a note at a toll booth. The cop there calls Meyer at the 87th Precinct. Kathy then panics while Eddie is giving King more instructions and blurts out the address of their hideout. King and Carella proceed to the drop site where they apprehend Sy. Eddie and Kathy beat feet but are later apprehended by a police roadblock. Meyer and Kling pick up Jeff at the hideout.
A few days later, Kling and Carella read about King's big business deal. King and Diane enter and he apologizes to Carella for giving him such a hard time. Diane says it's the first time in 19 years of marriage that she's heard her husband apologize.