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Secret code stops thieves

AS A former police officer, Adrian Shurmer knows a thing or two about tackling theft.

ADRIAN Shurmer with the popular guide
ADRIAN Shurmer with the popular guide

AS A former police officer, Adrian Shurmer knows a thing or two about tackling theft.

So when he began compiling a guidebook of Hyndburn in 1974 - featuring a map of all the borough's streets and a detailed description of where they were - he was determined that no-one should steal his work.

So to trip up any would-be thieves, Mr Shurmer, who has just re-released and updated the guidebook 14 years after it was first published, included a number of streets that don't exist!

Mr Shurmer, of Lyndon Avenue, Great Harwood, said: "I put a lot of effort into producing something that was reliable and accurate, but when you do that there is no way you can prove it's yours, unless you put some identification on it.

"So I put some very discreet, deliberate mistakes in it, such as Nelson Street, Great Harwood. I later found that some people had copied the maps without my permission and the mistakes were still there.

"But the supplement doesn't have any mistakes as I am giving it away."

Mr Shurmer, who was a criminal intelligence officer with Lancashire Constabulary, first produced the guide in 1974 to help police officers who were new to the area.

It was an instant success and Accrington bookshop Wardleworths began stocking copies of the blue first edition.

Mr Shurmer then approa-ched Hyndburn Council to make the guide official, and the red Shurmer's Official Guide to Hyndburn was born in 1988.

It has sold around 200,000 copies but was withdrawn 12 months ago as the maps and street names were out of date.

But demand for the book remained high, and Mr Shurmer decided to compile a supplement listing all the new streets in the borough that had been created since 1988.

He said: "The response to the supplement has been magic and I have got a full list of people wanting copies. I will be spending the next few days dropping them off to people.

"If there's any street not mentioned in the book or the supplement, then it probably doesn't exist. The book is now as good as it was before."

Anyone who would like to get a copy of the supplement, free of charge, can call Mr Shurmer on 887265.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
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Jon Macpherson
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