Reports of suspicious activity in Walberton led to a police car pursuit and helicopter search last night (Monday), Sussex Police have confirmed.
Police said officers were called to a report of suspicious activity at a building site in Yapton Lane at about 11.57pm.
A police spokesman said: "Officers attended and located a van in the area, which was followed and failed to stop.
"Following a short pursuit it crashed into a tree in Westergate Street, Westergate, and a man decamped from the vehicle and was detained."
A National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter was then called to assist in a search for another suspect, believed to be 'garden hopping' in the area, according to police.
However, police confirmed there was 'no trace' and enquiries were 'ongoing to locate the second suspect'.
The spokesman added: "The van was seized for forensics and a number of building materials – believed to have been stolen from the site – were recovered.
"A 20-year-old man from Bognor Regis, arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle, theft by finding, and two counts of dangerous driving, has been released under investigation pending further enquiries."