VANDALS have pilfered the lead from the roof of the old Hume Street Hospital to sell on the black market -- leaving the historic Dublin building open to rot and mould.
The vacant hospital, near St Stephen's Green, is now falling into disrepair.
Rainwater is seeping in, causing irreparable damage to the interior.
It is understood that the thieves also returned for copper piping and some were at one stage spotted leaving the premises with bags of loot in taxis.
The former Dublin skin and cancer hospital has been shut since 2006 and the site was purchased by a developer who wanted to convert it into office space but had their plans turned down under planning rules.
Since the property crash hit, the site has been empty for several years.
But businesses and residents have fought back against the indiscriminate theft and are now preparing for the second battle of Hume Street to save the old hospital building.
In the late '60s, architect Duncan Stewart, Garret FitzGerald TD, Mary Robinson and Dr Noel Browne were all involved in the protests to prevent a property developer demolishing a number of Georgian houses on the same stretch of road.
The buildings were occupied by students, in an effort to prevent their destruction.
This time, a campaign group including artist Maeve McCarthy, has banded together to lobby Government representatives and prevent further theft of the empty space.
"I'm a member of the RHA and I have a gallery and studio beside the building. I could see that vandals had been in, taking away the lead tiles on the roof," said Ms McCarthy.
"The place was wide open -- the vandals hauled out stuff. It seemed to be escalating with the price of commodities going up. There were fears that they would be going after the fireplaces next."
The Save Hume Street campaign (humestreet.org) managed to convince Dublin City Council to issue a Section 59 order to the current owner to repair the roof just a few months ago.
But Ms McCarthy fears it may have been too late and wants Government representatives to order that the site can become a living entity once again.
"Unfortunately drying out and maintenance do not form part of this legal order -- even though the building is still endangered by all the water that got in over the past few months," she said.
"Without adequate ventilation the interior climate is ripe for mould -- black stuff creeping into walls, timber and plasterwork."
The group want to see the site transformed into a cultural space for people of the city, while the current owner waits to sell the site.