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Gabriel Valdez, 30, was arrested Wednesday after crashing through a cemetery fence and over several headstones during a Hayward police chase.

HAYWARD -- A man was arrested Wednesday after police said he stole two cars, plowing the second through a cemetery fence and over five headstones.

Alameda County Sheriff's Office deputies were looking for Gabriel Valdez, 30, when they received a report about 10:30 a.m. that he was driving a 1990 Honda stolen Monday that had hit a fence near Star Ridge Road and Five Canyons Parkway, said Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson.

About 11:10 a.m., a resident on Saddle Drive in Hayward reported that his black 1997 Dodge truck had just been stolen. Minutes later, a sheriff's sergeant spotted the truck driving on Fairview Avenue and tried to stop it, Nelson said. The truck made a quick turn westbound on Fairview and took off about 50 mph.

The truck made it about one-tenth of a mile before running off the road and crashing through two fences at Lone Tree Cemetery at 24591 Fairview Ave., Nelson said.

The truck drove over five headstones at the cemetery, crushing one and chipping four, before the driver bailed out and ran through the cemetery.

The sergeant recognized the suspect as Valdez, and he went after him through the cemetery, eventually catching up to him and handcuffing him, Nelson said. It was not immediately clear how the sergeant recognized Valdez as the driver of the stolen Honda.

Valdez, of Hayward, was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft and evading arrest. He was taken to Santa Rita Jail, Nelson said.


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According to Tom Gratny, manager of the cemetery, the only damage were the disturbed headstones. All five are being replaced.

"We have contracted with a monument company to get them replaced as soon as we can," Gratny said. "We have not contacted the families yet; that is on our list of things to do. Right now, we're dealing with the police report and the district attorney's office, as they want to know what was damaged in the crash."

Damage to the fencing, curbing, asphalt and dirt would be fixed in upcoming days, Gratny said.

Follow Erin Ivie at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.