An 11-year-old girl from Arizona may have avoided disaster thanks to a “code word” her parents taught her to always ask strangers picking her up.
She and her friend were walking home after school in Phoenix Wednesday when a man driving a white SUV pulled up next to them and reportedly told them that her brothers had been in serious accident and she had to go with him, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said.
Instead of going along with him immediately, the 11-year-old asked him what the “code word” was – a prearranged word her parents would have given anyone that needed to pick her up.
The man in the SUV didn’t know the word and drove away, authorities said.
“Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking […] 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.”
Authorities believe the man in the SUV, whom they identified as a white man in his 40s with a short beard, is often in the North Pecan Creek neighborhood and advises anyone with more information to report him to authorities.