PIEDMONT -- Two Piedmont families had their homes raided at gunpoint early Monday morning in separate armed robberies that were likely the work of the same suspects, police said.
No one was injured in either incident, but the suspects fired at one of the victims, who attempted to follow them as they escaped.
In the first robbery, officers responded at 6:20 a.m. to a home in the 100 block of Estates Drive after a resident reported that three men with bandannas over their faces kicked in the front door of the home, Piedmont interim police Chief Scott Wyatt said. One suspect confronted a resident with a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, and another suspect threatened the other resident with a semi-automatic handgun.
The thieves told the residents to lay down and continued to ransack their home, Wyatt said. The suspects made off with a small jewelry box, a computer monitor and change after they looked for and asked for cash, which the residents did not have, Wyatt said.
While officers were investigating that robbery, Piedmont police received a near-identical report at 6:53 a.m. from a resident on Arroyo Avenue, near York Drive, Wyatt said. According to the 911 caller, three to five men kicked in the door and threatened the residents with the same two weapons, punching one of them to the floor after they screamed.
One of the suspects locked one of the residents in the basement after he tried to come upstairs to help, Wyatt said. The man escaped the basement and ran to a neighbor's house to call police.
As the suspects were trying to remove a safe and various computer and video equipment from the home, a woman sitting outside in a newer-model silver or grey SUV reportedly called the suspects on a cellphone, Wyatt said. The suspects ran outside, and one fired a shot back into the home as one of the victims tried to follow him.
Nobody was injured by the gunfire, which passed through two sets of windows in the front and the back of the house, Wyatt said.
Prior to the first robbery, police were also investigating a report from a resident in the 100 block of Estates Drive who called police to report that strangers were knocking on the door about 6 a.m. Oakland police also advised Piedmont officers about that time that they were looking for men fitting the same description after a suspicious persons call on the Oakland/Piedmont border.
The suspects were described as tall, black males in their early to mid-20s, wearing dark clothing and bandannas over their faces; most who were thin, but one who was heavyset, Wyatt said. The woman driving the car, for whom a description was not immediately available, is also considered a suspect, and made off in the SUV, which was described as looking "like a Suburban," with damage to its left-front end.
Police are working with robbery investigators throughout Alameda County, as armed home invasion robberies have continued to rise in Piedmont and nearby communities, Wyatt said.
The Monday morning burglaries follow a Dec. 20 incident in the 100 block of Oakmont Avenue in Piedmont where a woman returned home to find a man inside her bedroom rifling through her belongings, Detective George Phifer said. The man climbed out the bedroom window after the woman screamed, driving off in a four-door sedan with the woman's jewelry.
A Piedmont family was also held a gunpoint Dec. 12 in a home invasion in the 100 block of Scenic Avenue.
A black, four-door Pontiac reportedly connected to that incident was found parked in Oakland in mid-December, Phifer said. No arrests have been made in that incident.
Anyone with information that may help investigators identify suspects in any of these cases may contact Phifer at 510-420-3013.