Investigators described the attack, which was caught on surveillance video, as both gripping and disturbing. She managed to fight off her attacker, but police are using YouTube and other social media outlets to get the word out about the suspect before he preys on other children.
The video shows a car pulling up and parking near a fire hydrant in a residential street in South Philadelphia, waiting as the girl and her 2-year-old brother walk by. As the children, who were on their way home from buying sweets, turn the corner, a man gets out of the car and follows them. Then another surveillance camera captures the man coming up from behind and trying snatch the terrified girl. He places his hand over her mouth, lifts her off the ground and as the girl's brother screams loudly, the man stumbles as he tries to drag the girl towards his car. After a brief struggle, the man eventually gives up and runs back to his car and takes off.
The girl and her brother made it home safely, where she told her mother about the incident, who then called 911.
"We can't tolerate situations like this," said Philadelphia Police Capt. John Darby.
The Philadelphia Police Department has been a pioneer in the use of YouTube and social media to help solve crimes like this. They're hoping the video will help them hunt down this would-be kidnapper.
The suspect was described as a Hispanic man in his 30s or 40s, around 6-feet tall.
Police have outlined distinctive marks on the suspect's car, a late 1990s or early 2000s white four-door sedan. It has possible damage to the left front wheel well and a scuff on the left rear bumper.
"Our children must be able to walk around their own neighborhood without lowlives like this individual coming up and grabbing them, touching them, or doing anything else," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Philadelphia police are offering a $10 thousand reward for information leading to the arrest of that suspect.
The victim's parents said the girl was traumatized by the ordeal, but otherwise not injured. The father said he warns his children all the time about these types of incidents and apparently it paid off, because they were able to scare that would-be kidnapper away.