A police chief is under fire for asking if his officers should investigate burglaries where victims have left doors or windows open.
Assistant chief constable Phil Kay, of Leicestershire Police, compared residents who have suffered 'preventable' break-ins to patients the NHS refuse to operate on because they weigh too much.
He said people 'may take notice' if they knew officers wouldn't look into crimes they effectively 'haven't helped to prevent'.
ACC Kay was discussing burglaries at student properties when made his comments to the town's Loughborough Echo newspaper.
But the 'astounding' remarks were sharply criticised by councillors, university staff and local residents, who said burglars 'would have a field day' if the idea ever became official policy.
ACC Kay said: "What the National Health Service will say is, 'We are not going to operate on you because your body mass is too high. They have not helped themselves to prevent an illness.'
"Yet if people leave doors or windows open there is an expectation the police will investigate.
"I would far rather my officers were spending their time preventing crime, protecting the public and focusing on other stuff than things that are preventable.
"If the health service are making decisions on whether someone has helped contribute to prevent something or not, should the police? It is right that we try and stop it but it is right that people take responsibility.
"If they knew we were not investigating it, they may take notice."
Charnwood Cllr Sandie Forrest said: "I think the comparison that the police are making with the NHS is a poor one because at the end of the day the NHS will intervene at some stage.
"I appreciate that the police have an enormously difficult job to do, but this would be extremely unpopular with the public."
Reverend Chris Taylor, a chaplain at the university, described ACC Kay's comments as 'absolutely outrageous'.
Other locals also condemned the remarks.Richard George said: "Absolutely disgraceful suggestion - so if I go out and forget to lock a door or close a window and am unlucky enough to be burgled I don't deserve to have it investigated? Talk about being punished twice."
James Brookes wrote: "I think Mr Kay needs reminding that the police force are civil servants and cannot pick and choose what is and what isn't a crime. An unlocked door or open window is not an invitation into an abode."
Jerry Lockard wrote: "I think police should do their job regardless."