A Massachusetts teacher who was caught on video coaxing a child into stealing electronics and other prizes from an arcade claw machine at a New Hampshire mall has surrendered himself to police, according to reports.
Anthony Helinski, 34, has identified himself as the mysterious thief in a video that was shared by the Salem NH Police Department. The footage, captured on September 14 at the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire, shows a suspect convincing a toddler to crawl inside an arcade machine for the purposes of illegally procuring the prizes.
After sharing the video, police received several tips leading to Helinski's identification. Helinski turned himself in immediately after an arrest warrant was issued. But on September 19, Helinski admitted that he is the prize-hungry adult in the video, according to WCVB, a Boston, Massachusetts-based ABC affiliate.
Helinski now faces charges including three counts of theft, two counts of criminal trespass, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, according to WCVB.
Andover Public Schools confirmed that Helinski was an employee prior to the incident.
"One of our teachers at the Doherty Middle School was involved in an incident in Salem, NH, last week. Andover Public Schools is fully cooperating with authorities," Nicole Kieser, the Director of Communications for Andover Public Schools, said in a statement, according to WCVB. "The teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation."
The video that led to Helinski's apprehension showed him instructing a child on how to sneak inside and steal from the arcade game.
“Turn around, stick your butt right here,” Helinski says to one of the kids in the footage shot by two young onlookers. Video released by the police blurred out the children shown in the video, as they are minors.
An employee at the nearby Red Robin informed security of the theft as it occurred.
“There was a Nintendo Switch and a Gameboy DS,” Hanna Forese, the restaurant hostess, had said to the New Hampshire Union Leader, a Manchester, New Hampshire,-based paper. “They grabbed multiple prizes, but those were the two I saw. Then I just saw them walking up the escalator.”
Helinski was placed on personal recognizance after posting bail. He is set to be arraigned on October 29, according to Boston 25 News, a Boston, Massachusetts-based news organization.
[Photo: Salem Police Department]