Bomb disposal teams were called to a petrol station in Warrington, amid fears of an explosion.
Burglars had raided the station on Chester Road, cutting a hole in the roof to reach its cash machine, sometime before 1.30am.
But when police were alerted they noticed a strong smell of petrol in the forecourt shop.
Officers ordered dozens of people living nearby to leave their homes, while the area was checked.
Residents were only allowed to return after 8.00am.
Police now insist the area is safe, and it was nothing more than a burglary.
More top news
Man sentenced to 13 years and seven months for supplying cocaine
Psychiatrist showed "disregard for the fundamental tenets of the medical profession" having sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient
Man with connections to Moss Side gangs jailed after pleading guilty to drug and firearms offences