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A Japanese ship was making its way through the Arabian sea. The captain felt like taking a bath and thus went to bathroom after removing his Rolex watch, gold bracelet and keys to his new Bugatti Chiron...

When he returned back from the bathroom, he found out that his valuables were missing.

He suspected five of his crew members, so he called them in and asked all of them what were they doing in for the last 15 minutes. They replied as follows:

The French cook (with a butcher knife in hand): Monsieur, I was in the cold room, getting meat for cooking.

The Indian engineer (with some tools in hand): I was working on the generator engine.

The Bangladeshi seaman (empty handed): I was on the mast correcting the flag as it was upside down.

The American radio officer (carrying Beats headphones): I was messaging that we will reach to port in next two days -- Friday morning, that is -- around 1143 hours.

The German navigation officer (empty handed): I was taking a nap before my night watch.

Upon hearing all of their explanations, the captain determined who stole his belongings.

Who was the thief, and how did the captain know?


source: A puzzling contest, named Operaomnia, in my college.

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  • $\begingroup$ Does this one have an actual answer, or is it open-ended? $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Jun 8 '16 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ Does 1143 hours mean 1143 hours later, or a specific time? $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Jun 9 '16 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ @DanRussell Actually if i had used the 'knowledge' tag, if would be cakewalk. ( it was answered in a jiffy). $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jun 9 '16 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ I kinda remember reading this question before on this SE, let me see if I can find it. EDIT: Nope, looks like I was mistaken. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Jun 9 '16 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ @simple art it's military time for 11:43 AM, not 1,143 hours later. $\endgroup$ – garr890354839 Oct 20 '16 at 12:38
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He could have accused

the Bangladeshi seaman

because

the Japanese flag is symmetrical about the horizontal axis (it doesn't have an "upside-down").

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    $\begingroup$ Who said the ship was Japanese military? $\endgroup$ – Unsigned Jun 8 '16 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ Just because someone lies about what he was doing doesn't guarantee he is the thief. He might have been doing something else he didn't want known. $\endgroup$ – ErikE Jun 8 '16 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Erike, that is entirely true, but this is a puzzle, not an actual investigation. Perhaps the captain then "found out" by going to the seaman's locker and discovering his belongings there. $\endgroup$ – Hellion Jun 8 '16 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Tonkleton, "upside-down" means making the bottom edge the top edge. (I would not expect it to be possible to make the left edge the right edge, since there would not be grommets available for stringing the flag up on the "wrong" edge). $\endgroup$ – Hellion Jun 8 '16 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ Trivia: a ship having an upside-down flag is supposed to be in a state of distress or war. Even if the ship wasn't japanese, the seaman would have had no reason to turn the flag around (we can assume the ship wasn't in distress, as the captain just "felt like having a bath") $\endgroup$ – IvanSanchez Jun 9 '16 at 8:07
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The Bangladeshi seaman, since it's a Japanese ship and the flag is the same both sides up.

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    $\begingroup$ Just because someone lies about what he was doing doesn't guarantee he is the thief. He might have been doing something else he didn't want known. $\endgroup$ – ErikE Jun 8 '16 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ Or it could have been a signal flag, some of which are not symmetrical: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_maritime_signal_flags $\endgroup$ – vsz Jun 9 '16 at 3:20
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There are seven total people on the ship. The five he interviewed, himself, and the thief. The stories of the five he interviewed are correct; the thief is the one he'd least suspect! So the answer is the 7th person that was not mentioned.

I believe this because:

The enigmatic tag, firstly. Secondly, the number of crew members isn't explicitly stated. That being said, the people that you trust the most (the one other person not mentioned in the riddle) are the ones that are usually the closest to you to thieve from you.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for out of the box thinking, but as i have said in comments above, the most suitable tag could have been 'knowledge' (easy giveaway to the answer). $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jun 9 '16 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ At the time of my post, your comments didn't exist, unfortunately. $\endgroup$ – Psychrom Jun 9 '16 at 15:23
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The "rising sun" on the Japanese flag is centered both vertically and horizontally, and thus the flag is reversible along both axes.

This means that

the Bangladeshi seaman

was the prime suspect.

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    $\begingroup$ Just because someone lies about what he was doing doesn't guarantee he is the thief. He might have been doing something else he didn't want known. $\endgroup$ – ErikE Jun 8 '16 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @ErikE True. I reworded it. $\endgroup$ – Unsigned Jun 8 '16 at 20:59
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As 1 of the crew is telling a lie, that is an obvious candidate. However, here is an alternate solution:

The valuables were taken by a bird

Because:

First of all the objects all small and shiny, so it is possible that a bird grabbed them.

And

Secondly each crew member would know they could never get away with it, so they have no incentive to take the valuables. This is especially true for the carkeys as the captain will make sure to secure the car after the keys go missing.

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    $\begingroup$ This isn't a bad line of thought, but I feel it is misplaced without the lateral-thinking tag applied. $\endgroup$ – feelinferrety Jun 9 '16 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ As @feelinferrety aptly says, it's a good answer for out-of-the-box thinking, but then you've to know that "there is not enough on Earth for even one man's greed." $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jun 9 '16 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ @ABcDexter sorry, been seeing this everywhere and gotta start somewhere. "Out of the box" = as-is (exactly as it was intended) and "outside of the box" is what everyone actually means (outside of conventional thinking) $\endgroup$ – feelinferrety Jun 9 '16 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ @feelinferrety so am i misinterpreting it? (Because for some puzzlers, there's no box). $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jun 9 '16 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ @ABcDexter They're kind of opposites in a sense. Usually you see out-of-the-box in terms of software or hardware -- how the thing works right away without any upgrades or expansions... Can also refer to people using them the way they're supposed to -- "vanilla", "following the rules", "basic". "Outside the box" is usually used to refer to a way of thinking or doing -- breaching the confines of the "box" you may have been put into or raised/trained into putting things into -- "creative", "avant garde", "novel". $\endgroup$ – feelinferrety Jun 9 '16 at 13:00
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I would say that he should accuse

The indian engineer

Why? Because...

The ship is Japanese, so the captain would most likely be Japanese too (though not mentioned). I Japan you drive in the left side of the road, as you do in India. Who would steal a car with the steering wheel in the "wrong side"?

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    $\begingroup$ Could be to try and smuggle it out and sell it abroad. $\endgroup$ – mathreadler Jun 9 '16 at 12:16
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it was

the German navigation officer.
the radio officer said they are at 2 days from the arrival, and it is at 1143 which are 11.43 AM. The night watch is already over.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ok, but nowhere it is mentioned that current time is daytime and it's "next two days" so that counts anything under 48 hours (and greater than 24 hours). "Two days" here is pointing to the difference between the Friday and the Wednesday(i.e. the current day) of the theft. $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jun 9 '16 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ indeed nothing say what time of the day is, and we have to make some speculation, mine was that the radio officer was a precise person, and when he said 2 days he meant it. 11.43 am could have been a good time to start cooking for launch too. $\endgroup$ – Jackyz Jun 9 '16 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. fine i understand that, but a point to note that meat can be used to make dinner also :) $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jun 9 '16 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ of course, and in this case it was, as you marked as correct the answer from Hellion (which i didn't noticed when i went down to write my answer). to me it just seemed that a seamen, especially from Bangladesh which have an orizontally simetrical flag too, wouldn' t do an easy error as saying that he was turning a symmetrical flag upside down. I clearly overthought the puzzle ;) $\endgroup$ – Jackyz Jun 9 '16 at 13:53

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