OAKLAND -- One skill that appears all too common in Oakland these days is the ability to pick a lock. Burglaries jumped more than 40 percent last year, and not all of them involved window smashes.

So it came as quite a surprise to residents that Mayor Jean Quan's most recent newsletter included a plug for a class on how to pick locks.

The class is geared toward people who misplace their keys, but that didn't keep Quan's write-up about it from going over about as well with readers as a ransacked living room.

Quan was panned by members of an Upper Dimond neighborhood chat group.

"This is awful," one person wrote. "How could she possible do that in this climate? What's next? The fundamentals of armed robbery."

FILE - Oakland mayor Jean Quan apologized Wednesday for a newsletter item about a class that included kits for sale to help people pick locks.
FILE - Oakland mayor Jean Quan apologized Wednesday for a newsletter item about a class that included kits for sale to help people pick locks. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff Archives)

Another resident, Julie Mills, posted a letter she wrote to Quan asking that the class be canceled. "Of all the incredibly unbelievable things I've witnessed in my life, this tops the list."

It didn't help that when people clicked for the full description of the class, offered through the website workshopweekend.net, it noted that lock picking sets would be on sale after the class.

On Wednesday, Quan acknowledged the listing struck a bad chord in a city struggling with crime.

"I've heard from people who are upset about the lock picking class item," she wrote in a prepared statement. "I understand their reaction and I apologize."

Quan's newsletters are often more than 20 pages long with numerous listings.

"I am ultimately responsible for what goes out," the mayor wrote, "and I and our editor will do a better job reviewing these listings in the future before sending them."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.