HAD MACK SENNETT teamed up with Inspector Clouseau and the Three Stooges he couldn't have come up with better crime-on-wheels tales from two cities than a pair of reports that showed up on last week's police blotters. The first, out of London, was about a fiendishly clever, shotgun-wielding gang that worked with split-second precision to hijack a truck on the city's eastern outskirts. The other is from Benning Road NE, where a remarkably klutzy trio blew (and reblew) the hijacking of an X4 -- which is not a missle, but a bus.

Scotland Yard informs us that in its case, a gang member dressed as a policeman waved a truck and an accompanying car to the side of the road; then, lickety-split, a blue van pulled up and six armed men hustled the truck driver and two others into it, while one gangster roared off with the truck. Their haul? A luge load of silver bullion. Their timing? Not so hot: three days later, the silver market collapsed before they had a chance to show their metal.

Meanwhile, back on that X4 was one cool Tyrone Price, driving his trusty Metro-carriage along Benning Road, when three raucous passengers walked to the front of the bus to announce they were -- heaven knows why -- taking it over. They ordered Mr. Price off, but before he debarked, he set the hand brake. One of the three men piled into the driver's seat but -- please stand by -- neither he nor his partners-in-busnapping could release the brake. Frustrated, they moved to the rear and Mr. Price resumed stewardship -- for a good 10 blocks before the three men stepped up for another go at their hijacking. And again, the good hand of Mr. Price set the brake, not to mention the scene; this time, the trio hit one switch that closed the door and another that set off little yellow flashing lights that signaled -- you guessed it -- detectives Jacqueline Simms and Arthur Johnson.

For the finale, one man kicked out a side window and bailed out on the run; another kicked out the bus door and took off. As the curtains rolled across, the chase wound up with two arrests and one suspect to go -- presumably not by bus.