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Boy, 10, thwarts potential kidnapper by asking a store employee a clever question

Sammy Green remembered his father’s safety advice when a stranger followed him home from school.
Sammy Green thought fast and followed his dad's safety advice when a stranger wouldn't leave him alone during his walk home from school.
Sammy Green thought fast and followed his dad's safety advice when a stranger wouldn't leave him alone during his walk home from school.Courtesy Sam Green
/ Source: TODAY

A 10-year-old boy who was followed home from school by a stranger saved himself from a potential kidnapping by taking his father’s safety advice.

Sammy Green of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, usually walks home from school, making a portion of the six-block trek with a friend and their father, and the rest alone.

On Nov. 11, while stopping at a storefront, Sammy noticed a woman behind him.

"She asked for his name and where he was going," Sammy's father Sam Green, a minister, told TODAY Parents. "The woman told him, 'I probably know your dad' and asked, 'Where's your family?'"

According to Sammy, the woman kept offering to take Sammy to Wawa, a convenience store and gas station, and buy him anything he wished.

Related: 911 dispatcher answers call from her own daughter: ‘Mama, please hurry up’

Although Sammy was scared, his dad had prepared him for worst-case scenarios with strangers through role play.

"I have told Sammy to (ask) an adult for help and to be loud and scream about it," said Sam.

When the woman wouldn't leave him alone, Sammy quickly pivoted into a gift shop called Dani Bee Funky.

Since moving into the neighborhood in July, Sammy has gotten friendly with the staff there and loves to admire the store's plants and figurines.

On this day, a recently hired employee named Hannah Daniels, 17, was working.

In security footage posted on Facebook by Sam, his son walks behind the counter and whispers to Daniels.

“He said, ‘Act like you’re my mom, this lady is following me,’” said Sam.

Daniels told TODAY Parents that she had assumed the woman was Sammy’s mother — however, “The way she hung in the doorway was unsettling.”

The teen employee told Sammy to walk to the back of the store, but he wouldn't leave her side. So she strode to the door and pulled it shut, locking it. The woman walked away and Sammy called his dad.

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"No one ever called the police or 911 to report this incident," Mick Markovich, chief of the Pottstown Police Department, told TODAY Parents. "We saw the video on Facebook and investigated it from there. Several of our officers recognized the woman on the Facebook video as a local homeless woman that is often in the area. She has mental health issues. We were able to find her and refer her for some help."

Store owner Dani Small told TODAY Parents that Daniels, the employee who helped Sammy, is "a good, caring soul" and said that Sammy made the right call.

Sammy's dad is now organizing a "Guardian Angel" neighborhood watch group so children can be safer walking to and from school.

And Sammy has a new route home — he walks three blocks to a family friend's home and stays there until his father picks him up. Sam also has four caretakers on standby to pick up Sammy in a pinch.

Sam said his son feels more "reserved" walking alone but hasn't completely lost his sense of safety. And he's proud of himself.

“Sammy is very intelligent," Sam said. "He is humble, but I can tell that he feels good about how he handled it."

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