Police solve less than one in 20 burglaries and robberies in Preston, according to shock new figures.
The city is one of the five worst areas in England and Wales for undetected cases, along with neighbours Blackpool, say the latest statistics from Police.UK.
Only 4.8 per cent of incidents were cleared up in both areas during 2017, with officers in just three other crime hotspots - one in the Midlands and two in the South East - returning poorer results.
Lancashire Police, the only county force to include two of the worst five areas in the UK, defended its record, but admitted it could do better.
“We accept there is still room for improvement,” said a spokesperson. “We will strive to do the best we can to keep the people of Lancashire safe and feeling safe.”
An investigation by the Sunday Times into national clear-up rates, using figures compiled by Police.UK, shows that just nine per cent of all crimes were solved last year - a drop of more than 50 per cent in the last five years, sparking fears of a crime epidemic.
In the same period police officer numbers fell by more than 9,000 across the UK - a statistic seen by many to be directly linked with the slump in detection rates.
Lancashire has lost more than 800 officers to the Governments austerity cuts. And the latest figures are bound to further fuel the debate over declining frontline numbers.
Clive Grunshaw, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Officers in the county work around the clock to prevent crime and catch those who commit offences. However, year on year we are seeing the pressures on the service continue to grow.
“Lancashire police now receives the highest volume of calls for its population outside of London.
“I know that our Police officers want to bring people to justice and I have been assured that Lancashire Constabulary investigates each case reported to them.
“However, I continue to push the Government to ensure we have the resources we need to support those frontline officers.
“The experience of the victim is at the forefront of everything the police do and I am committed to providing the best possible support to those affected by crime.
“Last year more people than ever before accessed support through Lancashire Victim Services, meaning more victims of crime are receiving the specialised support and reassurance they need.”
According to the figures there were 4,340 crimes reported in one area of Preston - the city centre - during 2017.
Of those 142 of them were burglaries and 41 robberies. Most did not result in a conviction.
In the first four months of this year there were 1,453 crimes recorded in the same central area, with 14 of those being robberies and 33 burglaries.
In April, the most recent month for which figures are available, one part of the city centre - on or near Fishergate - saw 32 crimes. Only one of those is awaiting a court outcome, while no suspect was identified in 11 cases, the police were “unable to prosecute” in nine more and a further nine are still being investigated.
Nationally the detection figures are declining. Between 2013 and 2017 the clear-up rate for street robberies fell from nine per cent to four per cent, while the detection rate for burglaries dropped from six per cent to just three per cent.
Officers failed to catch any suspects in more than 1,000 areas where at least 30 crimes had been recorded. This month it has emerged that 90 per cent of knife-point robberies in the Metropolitan police area go unprosecuted.
Out of 436,949 burglaries in 2017, only 12,901 were cleared up and of 73,378 robberies recorded, an offender was arrested and prosecuted in just 3,033 cases.
Lancashire police say prosecution is not necessarily seen as the most appropriate course of action, suggesting the figures could be misleading.
“We investigate all cases reported to us and make sure that victims get the support they need,” said the spokesperson.
“Victims are at the heart of what we do and we strive to get the best outcome we can for them.
“When it comes to more serious offences such as rape and domestic assault Lancashire Constabulary’s detection rates are in fact much higher than the national average.
“Sometimes in less serious offences a criminal sanction may not be the most appropriate course of action. We use a range of disposals available to us based on providing a quality of service to the victim.”
Steve Rothwell, vice chairman of the Lancashire Police Federation, said: “The Federation has been for some time talking about the crisis in CID, with a shortage of detectives and a reluctance of officers wanting to move in to the department.
“We believe it is an operational problem caused by the funding cuts we have endured.”