A police firearms team was called out to the Tesco area of Newton Aycliffe on Tuesday after a knife was found.
Shortly after 2pm on Tuesday, police were alerted after a man had been seen trying the doors of cars parked in the disabled bay of the Tesco car park.
When officers arrived they found the suspect’s car, a Subaru Legacy, in the car park and noticed a large knife in the rear of the vehicle.
Fearing the man may have access to other weapons, a firearms team was dispatched to the scene as a precaution.
Later that afternoon, a 32-year-old man from Darlington was arrested on suspicion of possessing a bladed weapon in a public place.
He was interviewed and released on police bail pending further enquiries.