PIEDMONT -- Crime is down 39 percent for the first quarter of 2014, police Chief Rikki Goede reported to the City Council at its Monday meeting.

Sixty crimes -- lower in every category -- were logged in for January through March this year, compared to 99 in the same period for 2013.

Burglaries, for which Piedmont is a popular target, were markedly down, with 19 reported in the quarter, compared to 46 in the same period last year.

Goede credited a well-staffed police department, increased use of technology such as the new license-plate readers, and an involved citizenry as keys to lower crime rates.

"We are very proud of the drop in crimes, thanks to the men and women on patrol," Goede said. She noted that all the suspects who committed home-invasion robberies last year are in custody. The new license-plate readers resulted in five arrests, including an armed robbery suspect, a pair of individuals posing as general contractors to commit burglary and a forgery against an elderly resident with dementia.

"Our investigators are looking hard and deep into cases," she said.

Thefts were down to 28 reported in the quarter compared to 33 for the same period last year. Motor vehicle thefts also were down, with 10 reported this period compared to 13 in 2013.

There was only one robbery reported, with four reported in 2013 for the period. Assaults stayed flat with two each reported for 2013 and 2014. Goede noted assaults are generally a domestic violence incident.

Goede reminded residents to use the "Three L's" -- lighting, landscaping and locks -- to deter crooks. Keep bushes around homes trimmed so as not to provide a hiding place for burglars. With the warmer weather, do not leave valuables such as purses or laptops near open windows, where a burglar can snatch and run. Don't walk down the street with your nose buried in a cell phone. Those unaware are prey to robbers who grab purses and cell phones on the run.

Goede said several other cities are expressing interest in the license-plate readers and their effectiveness.

Goede works closely with Oakland police to share data, as crimes often cross city boundaries.

"We don't live in a bubble. We share information with other cities and counties," she said.

In other business, the council passed a resolution to oppose action by the state of California to reduce the ability of municipalities of outsource public services. House Resolution 29 is presently non-binding, but the League of California Cities is calling the resolution "harmful and designed to frame future votes before legislators before they know the details and impacts." The council supported the League view, noting that as a small city, Piedmont uses contract employees such as city attorney and contractors.

City Administrator Paul Benoit reminded residents that a public meeting will be held starting at 9 a.m. Saturday in the police administration building to discuss the 2014-15 city budget.

"We are in a sound and stable budget position, with an increase over projections," Benoit said.

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