Reversing a recent trend, Piedmont experienced a substantial drop in burglaries last month over January, Police Chief Rikki Goede said Wednesday.
"I've got very good news," Goede told Patch. "We had eight burglaries in February. That's substantially down."
January saw 24 burglaries in the city, following 17 in December, 18 in November and 17 in October. A report from Goede prepared for the March 4 City Council meeting showed a 50 percent jump in burglaries in 2012 from 2011, compared with a 20 percent increase in crime overall.
The surge in burglaries, combined with two home-invasion robberies on Jan. 21, has prompted increased community fears over crime and stepped-up policing in recent weeks.
Goede said in a report prepared for the Feb. 4 meeting that she was taking several steps to beef up police strength, including authorizing overtime "to backfill positions and ensure the minimum staffing is met at all times" and increasing the number of paid reserves to five from two. She also said she wanted to focus more attention on community awareness and neighborhood watch efforts.
In an interview with Patch, she credited increased neighborhood watch efforts for greater public attentiveness and willingness to contact police.
"We're getting a lot of suspicious persons calls," she said, adding that such calls and police responses to the calls are likely discouraging would-be thieves on the prowl in the city.
"I bet these efforts on the part of the public to call us is thwarting a lot of crime," she said.