Marble guerrillas invade San Diego

Shooting marbles nowadays is not the same as when we’d flick them at our opponents’ marbles in the 1980s. Nowadays, glass-marble play is for more than keeps. Throughout June, local vandals shot marbles at car windows and businesses around San Diego County – leaving a trail of shattered glass and thousands of dollars in damage.

“When I saw my car, the window was shattered but still intact in the window frame,” Hannah Healy said to me in a July 3 interview. “They didn’t try to push the window through to steal anything. My neighbor’s car window was also broken, and she found a marble inside her car. I also saw a marble on the street near my house the next day.”

Healy lives in Normal Heights; she’s the proprietor of, a popular local food blog.

“Having my window broken definitely impacted my limited budget as someone who is self-employed as a content creator,” she continued. “Not to mention it took at least half of a work day to take my car window to get repaired.” The window repair cost Healy $400.

Word on the mid-city streets is that the glass marbles are flung “with a slingshot,” Healy noted. “The marble vandals have not been caught or identified.”

About a mile or so south of Healy, a blue glass marble was the cause of another shattered car window on June 13.

“Last night, just a few minutes past midnight, I was driving down University Avenue, on the corner on 36th

The original story was published in the print edition of the San Diego Reader in July of 2023.

street, and as I’m moving, I hear a loud smashing sound,” recounted a Hillcrest resident online. “I looked back, and my rear side window was shattered.” I reached out to the victim, but he did not reply. He posted photos of the marble and damaged window and continued online, “I looked around to see if there was someone on the street or sidewalk, but I didn’t. I thought maybe I was getting shot at or attacked, so I immediately drove off… I called 911, and the cops came, and they found a marble in the back of my car.”

Al, a local Army vet, said the marbles are shot “using paintball pistols/guns to fire the marbles at high speed, [as they are] easier to conceal and aim than a wrist-rocket slingshot.”

Jerry Valdez, who repairs and tints windows in the mid-city area, agrees with Al. “Paintball guns got larger barrels; the kids and young adults are copying the other people on TikTok and online.”

On Jun 14, NBC 7 News reported about multiple marbles breaking North Park car windows and businesses’ windows.

And just east of North Park, “I collected about 20 marbles from the front of my house in the past year,” posted a Corridor resident online. “It has been going on for a few years now.”

Valdez added that people could save money buying used windshields and side windows from window repair shops that install used windows “at the Otay Mesa and Chula Vista junkyards. If people Google and find used glass shops, they’ll save a lot of money. Also, you can negotiate the prices. And some of the tints and films we install on businesses protect the glass from shattering.”

On a quick search online, nobody in San Diego County has been caught recently breaking windows with marbles.