Tracy Public Cemetery District board director Gene Birk said ground crews discovered the damage at 501 E. Schulte Road when they arrived for work at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Workers left the cemetery around 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.
The vandals could have gained entry through one of the gates that remain open 24 hours every day of the year, Birk said.
Granite vases attached to headstones were broken off in the I, J, U, V and W sections of the cemetery, and a few headstones, including a large granite marker weighing nearly 300 pounds, had been toppled from their bases.
Birk said whoever damaged the graves probably first smashed a pair of security lights attached to the roof of the cemetery office.
An office window was also smashed, and two large planters were overturned.
At least one footprint was visible next to a displaced marker.
“I can’t believe someone would be that mean,” Birk said, as he surveyed the damage Wednesday afternoon.
He said it will fall upon surviving family members to make repairs to the headstones.
“Families own the headstones — they don’t belong to the cemetery,” he said.
Birk said cemetery district officials would begin contacting families Thursday, Jan. 17, to notify them of the damage. After that, it will be up to relatives to decide what repairs to make.
Fixes could run into the hundreds of dollars per headstone, Birk said.
Some of the damage was to grave markers that could be more than 50 years old. If families cannot be contacted about the damage, Birk said the cemetery might try to clean up the headstones as much as possible, but would not make repairs.
The director said the cemetery board would have a special meeting Thursday to discuss the vandalism and how it might be prevented.
Birk couldn’t understand why anyone would damage the headstones.
“These are someone’s moms and dads, brothers and sisters,” he said. “Whoever did this is really sick.”
The Tracy Police Department took a report about the vandalism, but Lt. Greg Farmanian did not have any information regarding the incident or possible suspects as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Farmanian said the department’s chances of catching those responsible hinge on what was left at the cemetery.
“It really depends upon what type of evidence we gather,” he said.
He added that the cemetery has been vandalized in the past, but that it’s not typically a target.
“This seems to be an isolated incident right now,” he said.
• Contact Glenn Moore 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org