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
Turning fresher with sun and showers on Monday and Tuesday. More humid again midweek with rain on Thursday
Burnley have apologised to Bradford after one of their supporters was ejected from Saturday's pre-season friendly at Valley Parad
Jeremy Corbyn addressed allegations of bullying within the Labour Party as he launched his campaign to remain as leader in Salford.