An 11-year-old girl’s clever trick thwarted her abduction from a park when she asked a would-be kidnapper claiming to be a family friend for a “code word”.
The fast-thinking action serves as a chilling lesson other parents and children could learn from.
The girl was walking with a friend in San Tan Valley, Arizona, US at 3.45pm last Wednesday when police said a white SUV pulled up and a male driver urged them to get in.
The stranger told the child her brother had been in a serious accident and she needed to come with him, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
The clever girl then asked the man for the “code word”, which she and her parents had previously chosen in the event of such a situation. The cautionary exercise proved fruitful when the stranger drove off without her, apparently not knowing the pre-arranged code.
“Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking about to their children about stranger danger,” Sheriff Mark Lamb said in a statement.
“We hope by putting this out, it will encourage parents to have that conversation and create a plan with their children, so they know what to do if they are in that situation.”
The girl’s mother said she was proud of her daughter for remembering the safety plan but also relieved.
“We came up with a code word, and this one time, it saved my daughter’s life,” Brenda James told Fox 10 Phoenix.
“I never thought it would be used, but I’m proud of her for remembering that and knowing to use that.”
Police are searching for the driver, who covered his face with his hand while speaking with the girl. He was described as a white male, possibly in his 40s, with a short beard.
Neighbourhood children had reported seeing a similar car circling the park several times a day, police said.