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.