MOON LAKE (FOX 13) - A Pasco County mother is crediting a “code word” after a stranger attempted to abduct her daughter, she said.
It’s a word that just the 10-year-old girl and the mother knew. Pasco County deputies said the attempted kidnapper tried to lure the child into his car on Monday evening, saying he knew her mother, and promised her candy and ice cream.
However, the man didn't know the code word when the child asked for it, the mother said. She then threatened to call 911 if he didn't get away from her, and he drove away. The alleged encounter occurred at the intersection of Banbury Avenue and Cardy Street in the Moon Lake area.
The mother, who didn’t want to be identified, said she taught her daughter to remember the code word when she was three years old. If a stranger is trying to lure the young child, she must ask the individual for the family code name. She said she wants other families to do the exact same.
“Say for instance it’s a cat’s name, or her doll’s name,” she explained to FOX 13. “No one would know. Just you two. She remembered both words that we came up with, and she had done a marvelous job of getting away from this guy.”
The mother also taught her daughter to get a good look at her attempted kidnapper, so a detailed physical description can be provided to law enforcement officials. The child’s memory of the suspect led to a composite sketch of the suspect, which was released Tuesday.
"She had a detailed description of his physically and the vehicle he was driving and the clothing he was wearing so she did a good job. At this point there is still no new details in the case, we're still trying to figure out who the suspect is," Pasco County Sheriff Office PIO Kevin Doll said.
The young girl reported the unknown man pulled up in a tan, four-door vehicle with no license plate, according to officials. The victim described the suspect as a black male with medium skin tone and possibly in his 20s, deputies said. He also has black hair, brown eyes, cornrows pulled back into a “ball,” and facial hair “stubble."
He was seen wearing a red tank top, black shorts, and gold chains with a dollar sign pendant. The description included that he had a tattoo on his upper right arm of a naked woman.
The code word system is a practice that the FBI has preached for decades. Parents and children should agree on a code word that’s easy for both to remember. Kids should ask for the code word if they are approached by someone who tells them they should come with them. If that person doesn’t know the code word, the FBI says to run away.