VALUABLE authentic costumes, some dating back to the 19th century, have been destroyed by vandals.

They were damaged when paint was thrown around during a burglary at a local theatre company.

Police are investigating after a break-in at the Clayton West premises of Scissett Stage Door Theatre Company at about 6pm on Wednesday.

Not content with smashing their way in to the High Street premises, the thieves got in to a locked costume cupboard and deliberately tossed several tins of coloured paint over the clothing, floors and walls.

Elaine Ward, one of the company’s producers and a Kirklees councillor for the area, said authentic costumes and items of clothing, dating back to the Victorian and Edwardian period, had been ruined.

She said: "It’s very sad, I could have cried. It’s just mindless to do things like that.

"Some of the costumes are authentic and you can’t replace that.

"There are thousands of pounds of damage, it’s very disheartening.

"We can’t walk on the floors it’s that thick with paint.

"It’s absolutely ridiculous, it’s criminal damage beyond recognition.

"Whoever’s done this must be covered in paint. Somebody must know something about it."

Clr Ward said they had been hoping to put on a production of The Wizard Of Oz, but the costume for Dorothy had been ruined.

She added: "This is a community facility for the benefit of local people who come and learn and get stage craft.

"We’re only a small society and all the pennies count."

The vandals broke into the premises, formerly Clayton West Methodist Church, through a rear door.

It is not currently known if anything has been stolen, but it is thought a fire extinguisher and a hammer were used to smash windows and break into the locked costume cupboard.

A burglar alarm was also forcibly removed during the incident.

The costly incident comes just a few years after the theatre company spent thousands converting the old church into their base.

Police believe the culprits may have been a group of local youths.

An appeal has been launched on the Kirkburton and Denby Dale Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) Facebook page.

Anyone with information, particularly if you saw someone coated in red or white paint, is asked to contact the NPT at Kirkburton on 01484 436898 or Crimestoppers on 0800 111 555.