A 25-year-old was arrested trying to drill through a cottage door lock with tools he had stolen from the property’s shed.
The man had also tried to start a fire in a porch.
Neighbours alerted the householders and a 999 call shortly after 2.30am brought police units converging on the scene from Berwick, Alfriston, Beddingham and Lewes.
Two officers from the Lewes neighbourhood response team spotted a man answering the description of the suspect walking along the A27 near the Barley Mow, Selmeston, and he was stopped and arrested on suspicion of attempted burglary.
The man was found to have mental health issues, having recently left a hospital in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and he was returned there.
He was not charged with any offences.