A police force was slammed by residents yafter figures showed a quarter of all crime reported is not investigated beyond a desktop study or phone call.
Information released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that of 36,245 offences reported in Wiltshire in 2011-12, 8,181 were listed as “not investigated” after an initial assessment.
The data shows that 42 per cent of cases of theft and handling of stolen goods were placed in this category.
Thirty-four per cent of criminal damage incidents and 21 per cent of burglaries were also not investigated.
Horrified residents said the decision not to investigate reports risked reducing public confidence and deterred victims and witnesses from coming forward.
Gerry Przybyszewski, 73, is involved with Gorse Hill Neighbourhood Watch in Swindon, Wilts., said the figures were worrying.
He said: “They should investigate, come out and ask for witnesses.
“If there’s no proof there’s nothing they can do but if people bring forward witnesses and a statement, how can they drop the case?
“Respond to the public, because if you don’t respond to the public, the public lose faith in you.”
Maurice Small, 70, from Gorse Hill, Swindon, is also involved in the Neighbourhood Watch.
He claimed residents had lost confidence in police because fewer officers kept residents informed about progress with complaints or issues.
Mr Small said call handlers should go back to victims whose complaints are not being investigated and explain why.
He added: “If they ring 999 and nothing gets done they aren’t going to both any more.”
Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, said some reports were false or did not give leads.
But he said police should find new ways of dealing with complaints to see whether improvements could be made to responses.
A spokeswoman for Wiltshire Police said: “Every crime report that is received involves some form of investigation.
“This can be an initial desktop/telephone investigation and, failing any tangible lines of inquiry, this may be closed as undetected.
“If there are suitable lines to follow then this will be screened to another investigative department.”