THIEVES who scaled the walls of a church may have stolen up to half a tonne of lead from the roof.

Builders have spent the past two days working to repair the damage at Christ Church Woodhouse, and will be there again all day today.

They are trying to make the roof watertight, after the thieves smashed and moved slates to get at the lead flashing.

But they may be in for a shock – the stolen lead had all been marked with Smartwater, a forensic liquid that can be traced by police.

The substance was painted on the lead after previous thefts.

Vicar, the Rev David Carpenter, said: “The builders who were up on the roof said up to half a tonne could have been stolen.

“Their priority has been to put in the new plastic flashing, which means if it rains, the water will be diverted into the gutters and down pipes rather than the church.

“They are then planning to use the old slates they can salvage on the visible sections of the roof and replacement ones in the gullies and hollows of the roof.’’

The church, on Woodhouse hill is the parish church for Woodhouse, Fartown, Sheepridge and Deighton.

Police have appealed for any witnesses to the theft, which was discovered on Monday. Call West Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060606.