A possible would-be abductor was thwarted Wednesday afternoon after a 10-year-old girl he approached asked him for the “code word.” The girl and a friend were walking near a park in San Tan Valley, Ariz., when a man—described as white with a short beard and possibly in his 40s—pulled up in a white SUV and told the girl that her brothers were in an accident and she needed to come with him, USA Today reports. Instead of complying, the girl asked for the code word and the man drove away. A couple months ago, the girl and her family came up with a prearranged code word that they would use if anyone else needed to pick her up, her mom, Brenda James tells azfamily.com.
“I’m very proud of her, you know,” James says. “For being 10 years old she did the right thing and knew what to do.” Local authorities say they hope that publicizing the incident will encourage other parents to come up with plans of their own for their kids. “Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking to their children about stranger danger,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb says. James says her daughter was shaken up by the incident and didn’t go to school the next day, but is otherwise OK. The white SUV has been seen in the area of the park several times a day local kids say, ABC15 reports. Police are asking the public to be on alert. (An abducted 13-year-old girl in North Carolina remains missing.)