You came so close. The job was going so well. You just never expected that the police would have a surveillance cat. That's what you get for trying to steal things in an age where people are strapping a GoPro to everything they can.

As soon as you heard the sirens, you and your partner split up, and ran in opposite directions. No sense in you both getting caught, right? However, all you managed to pick up in the mad dash of your getaway was your gear, and your accomplice was the one closest to the loot. Bummer.

After waiting at the pre-arranged safe point should the job have gone south, your worst fears are confirmed when your partner doesn't show. However, you're in luck. In this day-and-age of camera-equipped felines, your local police department has taken to allowing people emails rather than phone calls when they've been incarcerated. A few hours later, the following message showed up in your inbox:










One look at the email and you know that all is not lost, as your partner is trying to send you a message that's clearly not meant to be seen by the police. Hopefully before being caught, they managed to stash your ill-gotten gains somewhere away from prying eyes.

It's only a matter of time before the boffins at the station crack the code, can you figure out where your stuff is and retrieve it before they do?


The cipher was not pre-agreed between you and your partner. You are the mastermind of the operation, and could be expected to figure the cipher out, whereas your co-conspirator was selected for their brawn, rather than their brains. The cipher is not complex, and can be performed without the use of pen and paper.


2 Answers 2


I think the checkmark should actually go to Lord of dark for actually finding the answer to the original question, but here's the missing bit of the explanation:

The cipher consists of moving each letter one place right on a typewriter or computer keyboard, cycling from right to left if you fall off the edge of the row.

(Which makes the "no-computers" tag a bit ironic.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This answer made me appreciate the question and other answer all the more, but at least there wasn't a no-t_________s tag $\endgroup$
    – humn
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 16:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You should be the accepted answer, I have just copy-pasted the message in a program while you have explained it $\endgroup$
    – Fabich
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ Kudos! Can I ask how you discovered the mapping? And I thought the same about the no-computers tag, I had to check the tag description before adding it (and was why I didn't add it by default in the first place) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry to be unhelpful, but I just looked at it :-). The first time I did, I didn't see anything interesting; the second time, which was after the hint about the mapping being easy to apply, it jumped out at me. I don't know how much difference the hint actually made, though. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 8:26

Your money is

buried in the school playground underneath the slide


I don't know how it is ciphered exactly, I just used http://quipqiup.com/index.php

nitorf om yjr dvjppa qasu htpimf imfrtmrsyj yjr daofr
buried in the school play ground underneath the slide

Each letter can be mapped to one deciphered letter :
a l
d s
f d
h g
i u
j h
m n
n b
o i
p o
q p
r e
s a
t r
u y
v c
y t

  • $\begingroup$ Well, I've now added the no-computers tag, and it won't get the accepted answer until you know how the substitution is derived. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ Of course ! I'm working on it ;) $\endgroup$
    – Fabich
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @MattTaylor by computer I found a vignere cipher key to be mocgncgzfcnltcbbpbpswbcbozcozcncznsfcfcnlpgcn so I hope there is something else going on here otherwise this would just be a pain to do by hand. Also he gave a mapping that fits a simple substitution cipher, so why is that not already correct? He could have theoretically gotten that by hand looking at frequencies and making guesses until he got it right $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonAllocman there is most definitely a much simpler cipher. I'll start adding hints at some point if no-one has found the method of the substitution. The mapping given is correct, but that's only half the answer; the point is the method of encryption. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:46

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