CHELMSFORD, Mass. (AP) _ Two young men stole $400 from the gas station where they worked, then shot each other in the shoulder to make it look as if they were victims of a holdup, police say.

Michael Wright and Steven Bean ''are lucky they didn't kill each other,'' Lt. Francis Roark said.

Roark said the two 18-year-olds confessed while being questioned in the hospital, where they were in fair condition Thursday. They were charged with larceny.

Sgt. Ron Gamache said the two men stashed the receipts behind a stone wall outside the gas station, shot themselves with a .22-caliber weapon and then ran inside Wednesday, yelling that they had been shot by a robber.

They gave police a detailed account, claiming a robber in a black parka shot them at pointblank range. Police began an intensive search for the gunman.

''We have enough legitimate crime in Chelmsford,'' Roark said. ''We didn't need this hoax and the hysteria that surrounds a double shooting.''

Chelmsford in 23 miles northwest of Boston.