Council chiefs in Leeds have waged war in their battle to patch up the pavements.
New measures are set to be introduced in a bid to stop the thefts of York stone slabs from across the city.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reported last year an entire path was stolen from St Saviour’s Church in Richmond Hill.
And last year the thefts across the city were reported to have cost Leeds City Council an estimated £50,000 over 12 months.
The local authority will start treating York stone flags with smart water to help identify stolen pavements.
The council has also teamed up with the Leeds College of Building on a training scheme which is intended to improve the quality and speed of reinstatement work.
And the scheme aims to make it more difficult to remove the stone flags.
Local councillors are calling on members of the public to report any suspicious activity or stone thefts to the police, so detailed intelligence can be gathered.
Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “I know many residents are as sick to their back teeth as I am with thefts of York stones which degrade neighbourhoods and strain highways budgets.
“Invisible markers will enable us to monitor the flags being sold and identify thieves.
“We are working with the police, but have to play our part in trying to stop this illegal trade in the public’s assets.
“Our ambition is to squeeze this trade as we’ve done with the theft of other public assets such as manhole covers.”
The YEP revealed last year there were over 250 reported cases to the public highways department of the stone being stolen over 12 months.
York stone is common in areas such as Harehills, Headingley, Woodhouse, Burley, Armley, Cross Green, Roundhay, Gledhow, Beeston, Pudsey and Chapel Allerton.