By Roseanne Tellez

HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — Two children walking to school in Hammond, Ind. Monday morning had the fright of their young lives.

A stranger pulled alongside as they walked down 171st place on their way to Thomas Jefferson Elementary, just two blocks away. The man stopped and told them to get in his car.

They refused, and ran to school.

Police responded within minutes and tried to find the man, but a very worried mom wants the whole community on alert.

Rachel Jankovic is thankful her daughter wasn’t harmed and that she seemed to know just what to do.

Nine-year old Abigail Jankovic was walking to school early this morning with a 10-year old neighbor when she realized she was being followed by a car.

“He said get in,” the girl tells CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez.

The man — Abigail describes him as older with gray hair, a knit cap and a four-door beige car — even got out and ordered the little girl in.

“I didn’t say anything. I just kept walking. I didn’t want to make contact because he could try to trick me into something,” she says.

As Abigail and her friend picked up their pace, the stranger circled the block a few times leaving only when her school. Thomas Jefferson Elementary was in view. School officials were quick to act.

Rachel Jankovic got a call from the school, saying she needed to come right away.

“I almost thought I would have a heart attack,” the mother says.

Abigail’s stepdad wants other parents to beware.

“Watch your kids, take them to school. This guy isn’t going to stop, unless he’s caught,” Sasha Jankovic says.

Abigail says she didn’t run home because she didn’t want the stranger to know where she lives.

She also said if she’d had her phone with her, she would have snapped a picture of the license plate. And she’s grateful to the older neighbor who put himself between her and the street to protect her.

Watch & Listen LIVE