A 10-year-old Arizona girl may still be with her family today by tricking a possible would-be kidnapper.
What are the details?
According to a report by KTVK-TV and KPHO-TV, a man approached Brenda James' daughter on Wednesday in San Tan Valley, which is near Phoenix. The girl was walking with a friend around 3:45 p.m. local time when a man driving a white SUV-style vehicle pulled up next to them. He told James' daughter that her brothers had been involved in a serious accident, and that she needed to come with him immediately.
Instantly wary, the young girl asked the man what the family's "code word" was. The man immediately drove off, apparently caught off-guard by the young girl's request.
According to James, the family's "code word" was implemented just a few months ago for occasions such as this.
"I'm very proud of her, you know, for being 10 years old. She did the right thing and knew what to do," James said.
"A lot of things could have happened, so luckily this didn't happen," James said. "My daughter was prepared, and it didn't happen, and she's at home safe."
James, who was at work at the time, said her daughter was shaken by the incident, and called her in tears when she did safely arrive at home.
"I just kind of calmed her down and she told me that some guy tried to take her," James explained. "And all my thoughts went out the window at that point and I got in my car and I drove home."
What did law enforcement say?
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb commended the James family for having an action plan in place for situations like this very one.
"Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking about to their children about stranger danger," 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."
Lamb added, "The mother of this child did an awesome job teaching a code word to her child, and that potentially saved that girl’s life."
The man is described to be a white male, possibly in his 40s, with a short beard. He is also described to be driving a vehicle similar to a Ford Explorer.
According to the outlets, neighborhood children have seen the vehicle in the area prior to this incident, "sometimes circling the park several times a day."
Anyone with information is asked to call the PCSO at 520-866-5111.