POLICE investigating the theft of an 18th century artwork stolen from Chester Cathedral have seized a vast haul of religious artefacts at an address in Crewe.

Four men and a woman were arrested at the address in Edleston Road on Wednesday, September 17, where officers uncovered a host of items.

Among them was an 18th century Greek Orthadox icon, ‘The raising of Lazurus’, which had been stolen from Chester Cathedral on 18 August 2014.

Four men aged 31, 34, 36 and 59 and a woman aged 57 were arrested the scene and remain in custody.

Officers made the arrests as part of Operation Hatay – a force-wide operation to locate and arrest those who are wanted for failing to appear at court or wanted in connection with on-going investigations.

Officers liaised with Chester Cathedral to confirm the identity of the item stolen item.

Chief Superintendent Andy Southcott said: "I am absolutely delighted with the police investigation and Operation Hatay, which has led to officers arresting outstanding suspects and the discovery of other items of interest.

“We hope that following this discovery, an extremely important icon can be reunited with its owners.

"We will also of course continue to investigate the other paintings to establish where they have come from.

"Cheshire Police takes heritage crime seriously and will continue to work with the community and other agencies to tackle the issue."