EDIT 5/2/23 (originally 9/20/22):
I have found a mistake in the puzzle, and have provided a note to help get through it. This mistake does not strongly hinder your ability to solve the puzzle, as there are still many steps that can be completed without this affected portion. However, this piece of information IS needed to fully solve the puzzle.

EDIT 7/19/22:
If you are solving this and are stuck , please let me know where you are stuck so that I can help! I would like to add more hints, but am unsure as to what I should be hinting towards.

A safe was dropped off at a local police station, supposedly belonging to a highly wanted criminal. Police have suspicions that whatever is inside the safe will lead to this person’s whereabouts. Only if they’re able to understand those contents, that is.

The front of the safe is just like any other, except instead of your typical dial, this safe has a keypad of colors.

There was a note securely taped to the front. It seemed as if this criminal was prepared for somebody to find it.

“Everything has a reason”

In addition to this note, it seemed as if somebody had drawn all over the front of the safe. A seemingly random pattern of red and purple dots lined the safe above and below its door.

After some time, one person at the police station had noticed something interesting about the colorful keypad, and not long after (and with a fair bit of confidence) was able to open the safe. Once the safe had been opened, though, everything made even less sense.

Inside the safe was nothing more than two pieces of paper, as well as some random numbers, letters, and drawings scratched into the walls and door of the safe.

The contents of the safe are shown below (colorblind friendly versions are available below).

The Safe outside of the safe inside of safe

The Letter letter

The Photo the photo

Colorblind Friendly Info

Text version of the colors on the top and bottom of the front of the safe. r is red and p is purple.
Top: rpppprrprrprpppprrprrprrprprrrpprrpprprpp
Bottom: rrpprpprrppprpprppprpprrpprrrprrrrrpprprrprrprrp

Color-free version of the keypad.
colorfree keypad


Hints will be added when I feel they may be needed. Them being added is not dependent on time or progress made

Hint 1 (Added 6/24/22):

One serving contains about 450mg

Hint 2 (Added 6/27/22):

Unless obviously a letter, it's probably a number

Hint 3 (Added 6/27/22):

Not all o os mean the same

Hint 4 (Added 7/11/22):

Photo is to upper equation as dots are to lower.

Hint 5 (Added 7/11/22):

A key will be needed

Hint 7 (Added 7/11/22):
Please note that this hint contains confirmation of something mentioned within @FrodCube's answer or its comments


Hint 8 (Added 9/30/22): Please note that this hint will contain more information than normal, and will be less (if at all) cryptic, given the time that this puzzle has sat

There are four main pieces to this puzzle, as hinted at in Hint 4. Steps 1 involves using The Photo and then step 2 uses the top equation. Step 3 involves using the grid in the wall, the letter, and the dots on the outside of the safe, and then step 4 uses the lower equation.

Note: (Edited 5/2/23): Please note that this will reveal one small part towards the solution, though this is due to my error. This part of the puzzle only affects one part (out of four). This piece WILL be needed to solve the puzzle.

The dots on the outside of the case have these meanings: TOP: tacsgggkzzki (this is where the error is, and this would not be found with the given photo of the safe). BOTTOM: grpflltxttwofggg

Anything below this point is not part of the puzzle, and should not be referenced to find clues.

So now it is time for me to ask you:

How did the cop open the safe? and
Where is the criminal hiding?

This is my first time writing a puzzle of this length and complexity. It is very possible that there are some flaws, and even mistakes (though I have gone over it several times). Please let me know if you find any!

Note: The letters on the flag in The Photo only relate to the colors they're on top of.

I will answer any question in the comments, given that it does not ask about the puzzle itself or how to solve it (i.e. I would answer "Is there a significance in the way the post is worded?", but I would not answer "Should I be focusing on the photo or letter first?").

Please be thorough in your answer. I am looking for the steps you took to get to each piece of information, and how you used it. I am happy with and encourage partial answers as well, I love to see the different levels of progress!

Good luck!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JLee No, rot13(gung jnf fvzcyl qhr gb gur snpg gung V pbhyqa'g svaq gjb zber fvzvyne vzntrf gb hfr) $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2022 at 17:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can we maybe have a Hint 4? $\endgroup$
    – FrodCube
    Jul 8, 2022 at 12:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the additional hints, especially #9. rot13(Vg nccrnef gung gur checyr naq erq qbgf ner gur qbgf naq qnfurf bs Zbefr pbqr. Vg vf irel qvssvphyg gb qrpbqr Zbefr jvgu gur fvtanyf eha gbtrgure rira vs gurl fcryy fbzrguvat vagryyvtvoyr; jvgu guvf tvoorevfu vg jbhyq unir orra vzcbffvoyr). $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Sep 30, 2022 at 16:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MOehm rot13(lrnu, v ernyvmrq zl zvfgnxr juvyr v jnf tbvat guebhtu naq gelvat gb cebivqr uvagf. V unq vagraqrq ba n jnl gb vzcyl fcnprf jura perngvat gur chmmyr, ohg arire qvq, naq qvqag ernyvmr gung znqr vg arne vzcbffvoyr. Bapr v hcqngr gur zvfgnxr, V qb cyna ba svkvat vg fb gung vg vf ab ybatre arne vzcbffvoyr) $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2022 at 16:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Don't worry. Such things happen. I think it's consensus here at PSE that judging the difficulty of puzzles is hard. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Sep 30, 2022 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


I'll start with a partial answer, since I'm stuck. Here's what I have so far

EDIT 1: added a bit more progress

The safe:

The police office probably noticed that only six out of nine buttons were dirty, i.e. used. Since those buttons correspond to the colors of the rainbow, he probably pressed them in the order R O Y G B P.

The letter:

The message decodes by using the substitution written in the back of the safe: for example "o5" means that the "o" in the message should be substituted with the 5th vowel counted as "aeiouy". By doing this we find

I'm sure you can read this,
though something is off.
This is the first step to the
long, long journey you are a
bout to partake. Read
everything carefully, as you
don't want to make a
mistake. Hidden in this safe
is where I am hidding, and
though I doubt you will find
me, I know you'll keep
trying. Make sure not to lose
this note; you will need
everything I have wrote

Also important to notice that five letters in the message are written in a different font. In order they read "I M G U R".

Finally there are two mistakes: "hidding" is spelled with an additional "d" and the final word "wrote" should probably be "written"

The picture

There are five images paired with arrows. The arrow probably symbolizes whether the letter encoded by the picture is upper or lower case. The way I have interpreted them, but I don't think it is fully right, is:

"x k X N L", since "x" marks the spot in the map, "k" is the symbol for potassium, abundantly found in bananas, "N" in the semaphore flag alphabet, and "L" because of the shape drawn.

Interpreting this as a imgur URL gives the following picture. There are two pictures, one the negative of the other, with written "F * I" and a red circle telling us to take the second option. This might mean to take the "negative" of some result, but I don't know which.

What's left:

The picture on the door should mean "Upper Case", since it points to the "upper" of the two "cases", but I don't know where it should be used

The shape in the top right inside the safe is the same shape as the lines in the picture message, but I don't know what it means that it is followed by "o o"

I don't know how to decode the upper and lower "equations" inside the safe and similarly the purple and red sequences outside the safe. The only bit of progress on the top equation comes from SQLnoob's comment where if you interpret the numbers as the hex codes for ASCII, you get that the numbers combine to 8917, but it is unclear how to combine this with the ".oo" at the beginning. All the ?8917 imgur pictures (with any character for ?) are either non-existent or unrelated to the puzzle.

I don't know the meaning of the two grids with the bottom right corner shaded inside the safe

That's what I have. It's not much but I hope it can start a discussion.

  • $\begingroup$ Awesome progress! Since you've made it this far, I will confirm that rot13("k o K A Y" vf abg gur pbeerpg nafjre gurer, gubhtu dhvgr pybfr), and instead rot(hfr v.fgnpx.vzthe.pbz jura frnepuvat gur pbqr). $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2022 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ Got pretty much as far as this, I also tried your L for the imgur code as a C from a pigpen cipher, and the b as a y for yellow but couldn’t work it out - not sure which letter is wrong $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2022 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Had all the same thoughts... will add a few more: rot13(Gur gjb tevqf jvgu funqrq obggbz evtug pbeare ybbx yvxr gur ynlbhg bs n Cbylovhf fdhner. (Nyfb gur a va "ernfba" ba gur sebag bs gur fnsr xvaqn ybbxf yvxr n ybjrepnfr Terrx yrggre rgn.) Gur checyr naq erq qbgf zvtug znxr frafr nf n Cbylovhf / cynlsnve pvcure, rkprcg gurer'f fb zhpu ercrgvgvba (vg fgnegf jvgu 14 21 21 14 21 21 21...) Gur rdhngvba vafvqr gur gbc bs gur fnsr pbhyq or ersreevat gb gur urk NFPVV pbqrf sbe gur qvtvgf, fb vg jbhyq or (44185+400)/5 = 8917. Abg fher jung gb qb jvgu gung vasb gubhtu.) $\endgroup$
    – SQLnoob
    Jun 23, 2022 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @SQLnoob rot13(lbh unir gur evtug vqrn nobhg gur zngu, ohg znxr fher gb cnl nggragvba gb gur jubyr rdhngvba) $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2022 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ I thought that rot13(gur urk-rapbqrq fhzznaqf jrer bssfrgf gb gur yrggref sebz gur cubgb, fvapr gur bb nccrnef va gur fhz naq arkg gb gur tevq funcr, ohg V pna'g znxr vg jbex. Vtabevat gung naq sbyybjvat OT'f fhttrfgvba gung gur onanan rapbqrf l, V pna svaq guvf, juvpu ybbxf yvxr n avpr uvqrbhg, ohg erdhverf gur Y funcr gb or na Z naq yrnirf obgu rdhngvbaf naq gur I×I tevqf hanppbhagrq sbe). $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jun 24, 2022 at 18:47

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