And to add insult to injury, the thieves used the Cathedral’s own ladders on both occasions to strip the precious metal from the building, which has an 800-year history.
The Dean of Wakefield Jonathan Greener said: “We can’t believe it’s happened with the Cathedral being slap bang in the city centre and because of the sheer size of the building.
“It’s tragic to see. Not only have they taken the lead, but they have done a lot of damage in the process.
“Here we are, a poor little cathedral in Wakefield struggling to make things move forward, and it’s an enormous blow that someone should do this.
“We have spent well over £250,000 getting the roof done over the last couple of years and they come along and whip it off and cause all sorts of misery.”
“We’re lucky that it was spotted before the rain came because they risked damaging the very fabric of the Cathedral – imagine the damage water could have done?”
It is not clear when the thieves first struck, but they returned on Tuesday night.
And the theft comes as the Cathedral is trying to raise £5m for the Cathedral’s transformation scheme, Project 2013.
Head verger Julie Lovell, 52, said: “We couldn’t fathom what it was, and then we found a screw driver and noticed the chain had been cut that fastened the ladders to the wall.
“It’s heartbreaking because we’ve been trying to raise all that money to refurbish the Cathedral and the roof was the bit we had drawn a line under, and now they’ve gone and destroyed it.”
Mrs Lovell said the ladders were left behind by workmen and had been fastened to the wall outside because the Cathedral had nowhere to store them.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said inquiries were ongoing and urged anyone with information to call 0845 6060606.