Thieves stripped around half of the lead from the roof of a monastery.
The New Refectory at the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield was targeted during the early hours of Tuesday morning.
But staff at the religious community centre hope modern technology could help police track down the thieves.
Andrew Davies, an administrator at the monastery, said: “The lead was covered in SmartWater, which is a liquid used to mark valuables.
“Through forensics , if the lead was sold at a scrap yard then in theory it could be traced back to us and those responsible could be caught.
“We hope the police can find those who did it and it acts as a deterrent to stop them doing it again.”
Temporary covers were fitted on to the roof on Tuesday to prevent water leaking into the building.
The New Refectory was built in 2006 but after a lead theft three years later, the roof was covered in SmartWater.
Mr Davies said the monastery is still open to community groups despite the damage.
He said: “We were concerned we would be affected by what happened but thankfully we can carry on as usual.
“We are visited by a number of external groups for conferences and meetings. Church groups and The Mirfield Free Grammar also come to use the facilities.”
Mr Davies said they are unsure how much money it will cost to replace the lead.
He added: “We have someone coming out this week who will look at the roof.
“We should be covered by the insurance but until then we do not know when it can be replaced.”
Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident.
Anyone with information should call Kirklees CID on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 and quote the crime reference number 13160091021.