SACRAMENTO -- Speaking at an annual crime victims rally Tuesday at the Capitol, Gov. Jerry Brown said he was nearly a victim of crime himself twice in the last year and a half.

Brown revealed that a man tried to break into his Sacramento loft apartment Sunday night, though he wasn't there at the time. And in late 2011, three men showed up in a car at his home in the Oakland hills before they were detained and released without charges, Oakland police said.

In Sacramento, the man climbed to the roof of his J Street apartment building, which is over a P.F. Chang's restaurant, and jumped onto the governor's balcony. A neighbor called police, who arrested the man on suspicion of prowling.

The man, described in police reports as a "suspicious subject," was later released and likely didn't know whose apartment he was trying to break into, the governor said.

In November 2011, Brown's wife, Anne Gust Brown, was home alone when Oakland police received a call that California Highway Patrol officers, who were on routine guard at the Oakland home, had detained a vehicle and three men on "an unspecified dignitary's property," said Sgt. Chris Bolton.

Oakland police went to the home shortly before 1 a.m. and determined the vehicle was suspicious, said Bolton.

"Although the circumstances of the vehicle's presence on the property was suspicious, one vehicle occupant was issued a citation for possession of a hypodermic needle and the vehicle and all occupants were released from the scene following a preliminary investigation,'' Bolton said in an email Tuesday night.

Brown said Tuesday: "They said they were looking to buy real estate in the neighborhood."

At the crime victims event, Brown told a crowd who gathered amid a gallery of posters of people who had been slain that he has no idea what it's like to be a victim of a serious crime such as a family member's murder.

"I try to grasp what it means to lose a loved one," he said. "While I can't say that I can feel your pain, I will say I will defend my oath to the Constitution, which is to make California the safest place humanly possible."

Advocates of crime victims are at odds with Brown's 2011 realignment plan, which transferred offenders of nonviolent and nonsexual-related crimes and most parole violators from state prisons to county jails. Still, the advocates cheered when Brown said he is fighting a federal court panel's threat to hold him in contempt if he doesn't comply with an order to release 10,000 inmates to further reduce the crowded system.

Brown has argued that releasing more inmates will increase crime. And he maintains that the federal courts shouldn't have oversight any longer over California's prison system, after realignment reduced the prison population by 25,000 inmates.

"I'm working every day trying to figure out how to take this case, which we're losing now, to get in front of the U.S. Supreme Court so we don't have to let out those 10,000 people," Brown said.

The governor has until May 2 to offer a plan that shows how he will lower the inmate population. He will also have to determine what kind of legislation will be needed to comply with the order if it stands.

The federal courts have said the state's treatment of mentally ill prisoners continues to be unconstitutionally cruel. But Brown told reporters Tuesday that the state's inmates have it better than most Californians.

"We're spending more and more money on health care, more than people get in free society," he said. "It's not that we're perfect or the state of California hasn't made mistakes. It's just that after spending billions, we are making progress."

After returning from his recent China trip, Brown on Friday made an unannounced visit to the state prison in Chino and said he plans to visit other prisons in coming days.

Brown said the "lock-'em up, throw-the-key-away" rhetoric in recent decades contributed to the state's $27 billion deficit that he inherited in 2011. But he did not discount the possibility of adding new beds to the prison system.

On another issue Tuesday, Brown offered his support to the beleaguered leadership at the California Public Utilities Commission, saying that its president, Mike Peevey, "is well-experienced. He's flawed like everyone else in this building, but he has a lot of knowledge, and he has great commitment."

Peevey's six-year term is up at the end of 2014. Brown avoided any substantive comment on last week's report that criticized the PUC's safety culture. Legislators are holding a hearing on the PUC's performance Wednesday, where the executive director, Paul Clanon, is expected to lay out a plan showing how the PUC will turn its safety culture around.

The Legislative Analyst's Office said Tuesday that revenues are now $4 billion more than the governor anticipated in his budget. But Brown tried to tamp down hopes that many Californians have of restoring programs decimated by recent cuts.

"We have a very complicated mechanism called Proposition 98," the governor said, "and depending on how the money flows, it may not be as available as many people are now thinking."

Staff writer Kristin J. Bender contributed to this report.Contact Steven Harmon at 916-441-2101. Follow him at Twitter.com/ssharmon. Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics.