A senior police officer has been criticised for suggesting some burglaries should not be investigated if doors and windows have been left open.
Phil Kay, assistant chief constable of Leicestershire Police, said he would "far rather" officers could focus on preventing crime and protecting the public than spending their time investigating break-ins where carelessness may have played a role.
The senior officer posed the question while discussing a high rate of burglaries at digs occupied by students at Loughborough University.
In order to get students to "take notice", Mr Kay suggested that the police could employ similar methods to NHS services when providing treatment for the clinically obese.
"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," he told the Loughborough Echo.
"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."
Under a long-running operation Leicestershire Police have attempted to tackle the problem by raising awareness among students.
"It is right that we try and stop it but it is right that people take responsibility," Mr Kay said.
However the suggestion was met with criticism.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who represents North West Leicestershire, said: "I would like to hope that the force are putting this out there as a way of reminding the public of the importance of not leaving doors or windows open.
"But it is their job to detect and investigate such crimes, not to penalise law-abiding citizens who may have made a mistake."
Sandie Forrest, a local councillor, said she was "astounded" that the question has been posed.
"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," she told the Echo.
Mr Kay said he was not suggesting Leicestershire Police had any plans to change their practices, adding: "I pose that as a question."