PIEDMONT -- Crime is slightly up for the first six months of the year compared with the same period last year, but the Police Department's "solve rate" has doubled since years past, police Chief Rikki Goede told the City Council at its Monday meeting.

Piedmont was below the national rate of crimes solved with 6 percent; its current rate is 13 percent, a fact applauded by the council. Piedmont relies on the Alameda County crime lab to process its evidence, or in some cases, Oakland's crime lab. Piedmont has 22 open cases, one reopened case, 102 inactive and 374 closed cases.

Piedmont police are being proactive to fight crimes in the city, Goede said. On July 8, two suspects were arrested after an armed robbery of two women near Grand and Greenbank avenues. The suspects' vehicle crashed in Oakland during pursuit; they were apprehended following a foot chase. Some burglary suspects were arrested on two other occasions when vigilant residents called police about suspicious activity.

The department has added six new officers to its roster since Goede came on board. Officers George Tucker and Jeff Spranza completed their field training and are now on patrols. Officers Joe Garcia, Ray Leong, Nicole Bolden and Andrew Vincent were hired in June and will complete their field training by October.


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Total reported crimes for January through June 2013 were 173, compared with 157 for the same period last year. Motor vehicle thefts rose to 27 this year so far compared with 19 last year. Thefts were down, however, with 60 reported this year compared with 79 last year. Burglaries were up with 74 this year compared with 55 last year.

Robberies were up, with eight during this six-month period compared with two in 2012. Four of those robberies occurred in January. Goede said the trends mirror those of surrounding cities such as Oakland. There were no rapes, homicide or arson reported this year.

Goede said earlier-model Toyotas and Hondas are prime targets for car thieves.

"They go for cars that are easier to start and parts that are in demand," she said. "Some cars have been stolen out of a garage that was left open."

Steering wheel locks and car alarms are good deterrents for car thieves, she said, as well as parking in well-lit locations. Police continue to pay special attention to patrolling areas known to be prone to burglaries. Residents are encouraged to inscribe identifying marks on their possessions such as laptops or to photograph valuables. Residents may visit www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/police to view a map of reported incidents.

IN OTHER BUSINESS: The council received information from AT&T about two possible wireless communication installations atop City Hall and at Hampton Field. The projects would go through scrutiny by staff and the Planning Commission should the city decide to allow them. AT&T would pay all engineering and installation costs. The city would receive lease payments from AT&T. The additions are being proposed to enhance, not expand, cell phone service. The item was informational only.

BEACH PLAYFIELD: The council also approved 4-0, with Councilman Bob McBain absent, the second and final reading of revised use restrictions for Beach playfield. The new ordinance goes into effect on Aug. 14. The key is dividing the field into two areas on Sunday, the day when vigorous pick-up soccer games are taking place at the expense of families wanting casual recreation. Half the field will be allotted for families, the other for the spontaneous soccer games. A monitor will check field usage and new signage will explain field rules.

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