US 11yo escapes suspected attempted kidnapping after asking for code word

An 11-year-old girl from Arizona has escaped a possible attempted kidnapping by asking a man, who had demanded she get in his car, for the code word.

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office said the man approached the girl as she was walking with a friend near a park in her neighbourhood.

He told the girl her parents had sent him to collect her after her brothers had been in a serious accident.

But when she asked him what the code word was he didn't know and drove away. The girl had arranged a secret code word with her parents in case strangers ever needed to collect her.

"Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking about 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."

Other children in the neighbourhood said they had seen the man, who drives what is believed to be a white Ford Explorer, circling the park several times a day.

Local police are trying to find him.