A juvenile girl who was targeted by an individual in a car on June 17 used her quick thinking to prevent her from being abducted, according to authorities.
Officers from Pasco Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the girl was approached by a man driving a dark grey 2014 Toyota Corolla when she was walking into the parking lot of the Academy at The Lakes, a private school in Land O’Lakes, Florida.
A spokesperson from the academy told The Epoch Times that the man was driving by on the public access road—about 50 feet away from the parking lot—when he tried to get one of their student’s attention.
Police said the man rolled down his window, waved to the girl, and told her to “come over here, get in the car.” In response, the girl said “I have somewhere to be” and quickly walked toward the front office of the Academy at The Lakes lower division, the statement said.
The man did not get out of his car and he drove off onto Collier Parkway shortly afterward.
Immediately after the incident, the student, a high school junior and camp counselor, reported the incident to the academy staff. Staff then reported the incident to the student’s parents and sheriff’s office.
“We are proud of the [student] for her quick thinking, good judgment, and for following appropriate protocols,” the school spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that this is an unusual incident and the school is constantly assessing and strengthening their security measures.
Police have described the man as a “black, heavy-set male with dreadlocks, wearing a black T-shirt.”
The police statement is accompanied by photos of the suspect’s vehicle, which was captured on school security cameras.
In a similar case, a 12-year-old girl from Michigan avoided being abducted by using a popular “password” technique, police said.
The technique requires a child to request a secret password when being approached by a stranger. If the person knows the password, then the child is taught that the adult is safe to approach. If not the child will stay away.
— The Macomb Daily (@macombdaily) May 29, 2019
In the case in Michigan, the girl was walking to her bus stop on the morning of May 29 in Macomb Township when she was approached by a car. The man at the wheel told the girl to “get in the car,” according to a Macomb County Sheriff’s Office press release sent to news outlets.
In response, the girl asked the man for the “password,” which he did not know. That was when the girl knew she was in danger and ran away. She told the school resource officer when the bus arrived at the school.
Officials said the girl and her mother arranged to use a “password” if her mother ever needed to have someone else pick the girl up.
Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Renee Yax told the Macomb Daily that she supports parents and children having passwords.
“That’s actually a great idea,” Yax said.
The girl was not hurt and didn’t make physical contact with the driver, Yax added.
The Macomb Daily reported that after the incident they sent out a “stranger danger” alert to parents.
“The safety of your child is always our top priority,” the alert said, in part. “As the warm weather approaches, we ask that you join us in our safety efforts by reminding your child about the dangers of talking to strangers.”
If you have any information on the case in Florida, please call 1-800-706-2488 and reference case number #19-025069.
NTD reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.