Property crime is up in Piedmont

Sam Richards

Police Chief Jeremy Bowers in a photo taken at a 2019 city council meeting.

“Part One” crimes in Piedmont (major crimes that include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, auto theft, and arson) as reported to and compiled by the FBI, were up 62 percent for the first six months of 2020 over that same period of 2019, Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers told the City Council on Tuesday night.

Piedmont recorded 169 such offenses during April, May, and June of 2020. That compares with 104 reportable Part One crime reports during the those same months in 2019, Bowers said.

 The biggest recorded increases from 2019 to 2020 were in burglaries (17 to 34), larceny/theft (67 to 103) and motor vehicle theft (11 to 24).

Bowers didn’t offer a clear single reason why these property crimes had such a jump in Piedmont. He said it’s likely a confluence of things, including people stressed out by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, and — without expressly stating it — zero-bail emergency orders for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies in Bay Area counties to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in jails.

“Literally, people are getting a ticket and walking away from felonies,” Bowers said. “Folks know that, in essence, they’re going to walk away.”

A brighter spot, Bowers said, has been the success of the city’s Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) cameras in making arrests — nine of them and 15 recovered stolen vehicles over the first six months of 2020, Bowers said. The ALPR cameras also helped identify suspects involved in area catalytic converter thefts, ultimately assisting in arrests of suspects in those cases.

ALPRs have recently been installed at Trestle Glen Road and Park Boulevard, Trestle Glen Road at Valant Place, Indian and La Salle Avenues, and Harvard Avenue and Ranleigh Way. A fifth new camera, near Blair Avenue and Calvert Court, is expected to be operation sometime in October, Bowers said.

He also said his force is working on updating the department’s use-of-force and de-escalation training, in light of several recent incidents nationally in which police officers killed suspects during arrests.

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