PIEDMONT -- January was a bad month for burglaries, with 24 -- the highest single-month total in the past five years, reported police Chief Rikki Goede.

The statistic mirrors an uptick in crimes throughout the area and the state, the chief said. Goede gave her quarterly crime report at Monday's City Council meeting. The high burglary rate caused reported crimes to jump from 74 in the first quarter of 2012 to 99 this quarter.

Burglars sometimes posing as solicitors "case" houses to see if anyone is home, then gain entry through an unlocked back or side door or window. Sometimes they merely reach through a window to grab valuables such as laptops or purses left near the sill. Most residential burglaries occur during daylight hours when residents are away at work, Goede said.

Thefts remained the same, with 33 in the January-through-March period for 2012 and 2013. Motor vehicle thefts rose from nine in 2012 to 13 this quarter. There were two assaults so far this year, compared to one in the same period last year. Goede said the assaults were not random and the victims knew the suspects.

One arson was reported, a burning log "prank-type minor incident," Goede said.

No robberies were reported the first quarter of 2012, compared to four this quarter. Three were home-invasion robberies. The chief has rallied residents at a town-hall meeting and encouraged formation of neighborhood watch groups. Fourteen new watch meetings were formed this past quarter, with another 19 block captains from the Lower Grand Avenue area -- the Baja Piedmont Neighborwood Watch -- gathering recently at Beach Elementary School, Goede said.


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She recommends etching driver's license numbers on valuables such as laptops for identification if the item is recovered.

In her case summary for the quarter, Goede reported 132 closed cases, 89 inactive, 22 opened and one reopened. Piedmont police are awaiting DNA and fingerprint data from the Alameda County crime lab for the home invasion cases.

"They have a big backlog," she explained, "and property crimes are at the bottom of the list" compared to homicides, drug busts and the like. Goede said closed cases can be reopened if more evidence comes to light.

Crime area maps, crime prevention tips and more information may be found at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/police.

Also at the meeting, Eden I&R, which provides the 211 service line to Alameda County residents, gave a recap of the numerous services it provides for free. Calls were up to 112,000 countywide for 2012, compared to 10,000 annually for 2007, when the service was established. The agency provides information and resources on housing, legal services, utility payments, health care and other vital services for those in need.

They requested $5,000 to support their programs. The council will consider the request during its budget sessions in May and June.

The Center for Elders Independence, which provides myriad services for frail, homebound seniors highlighted its services and pointed to a May 9 fundraiser that will be held at Piedmont Community Church.