Does the Marlboro Man Ride a Paint?

Just as the ballgame between the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals was starting Thursday afternoon, a man began spray-painting the Marlboro billboard in center field at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

Police believe he may be the so-called Billboard Bandit, a graffiti artist who has defaced more than 15 billboards countywide.

It's "almost like it (getting arrested) was intentional," said Sgt. Mike Gibbs of the San Diego Police Department.

Donald G. House, 42, was arrested at 1 p.m. on suspicion of malicious destruction of property as he spray-painted graffiti on the cigarette advertisement before the crowd of 19,292.

House is suspected of starting his campaign in March, causing $60,000 in damage, San Diego Police Sgt. Mike Gibbs said.

The Billboard Bandit's words vary, but the message is always the same: "Smoking Kills," "Cancer Ain't Suave," and "300,000 Died in 1990."

"I don't feel guilty," a man who called himself the Billboard Bandit told the San Diego Union earlier this spring. "It's an economic crime vs. a moral crime that's being committed by the tobacco industry."

Police detectives are investigating, Gibbs said. House is being held at the County Jail downtown.

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