ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- A seven-year-old girl screamed in fear, and police say that scream prevented her from becoming a kidnapping victim.
Assistant police chief Jamie Smith said officers are investigating the attempted kidnapping.
"We're lucky that the little girl did what she needed to do to get away and prevent something that could have been very bad," he said.
Smith said a man appeared out of a field of brush next to The Colony apartments and tried to grab a seven-year-old girl playing outside.
"When she was approached by the man, she started screaming and drew attention to herself, and that scared him off," he said.
The man escaped back into the brush as the child ran to find her mother.
Neighbors immediately spread word of what happened and kept an eye out for the perpetrator.
"The community has come together and we're watching for the people that done it," Anthony Smith said.
"If they come back, they won't like the consequences."
His mother, Margaret Smith, said she and others noticed a car parked across the field on multiple occasions, with two men inside watching children play.
They think one of those men was the one who tried to grab the seven-year-old girl.
"We're real close to the little girl that it happened to," Anthony Smith said.
"She plays with my son all the time, and she knew exactly what to do, and she got away, and thank God that she did get away."
He and several of his neighbors took saws and trimmers to the fence line behind the apartment building to increase visibility.
If anyone comes back, the tenants will have surveillance of a person sneaking up.
Assistant Chief Smith said it is unfortunate that society necessitates having to teach children to be wary of adults, but to take this opportunity to prepare them.
"Tell your kids to be aware of your surroundings, if somebody tries to touch you or talk to you that you don't know, to be particularly suspicious of them," Jamie Smith said.
"Children are going to get out of your sight but have enough confidence in them to teach them to properly act, scream, holler, kick, do what you have to do to get away."
If you have any information or see something suspicious, contact the Albertville Police Department at (256) 878-8274.