San Tan Valley, AZ – A little girl escaped her would-be kidnapper because the man didn’t know the secret code her parents had established for emergencies.
An 11-year-old girl was walking with a friend near a park at about 3:45 p.m. on Nov. 7 when a white SUV pulled up next to them, according to a post on the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office’s official Facebook page.
Police said the man told the girl that her brothers were in a serious accident and she needed to go with him.
That’s when the 11 year old asked the man for her parents’ emergency “code word.”
Police said the man didn’t know the secret word, and took off.
The girl called her mother, Brenda James, crying and said a man tried to take her, according to KSAZ.
"We came up with a code word, and this one time, it saved my daughter's life," James said. "I never thought it would be used, but I'm proud of her for remembering that and knowing to use that."
Children in the neighborhood told police they have seen that SUV before, and it was recently circling the park several times a day.
Police said the man partially covered his face with his hand while talking to the girl.
The suspect was described as a white man in his 40s with a short beard. His vehicle was described as a white SUV, similar to a Ford Explorer.
“Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking about to their children about stranger danger,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said. “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 suspect remains at large.