A Massachusetts teacher was arrested after he was caught on video using a toddler to steal from a game machine at a New Hampshire mall, police said. Anthony Helinski turned himself in on September 19, two days after police in Salem, New Hampshire, posted the video on their Facebook page. The 34-year-old Lawrence resident and Andover middle school educator was charged with three counts of theft by unauthorized taking, two counts of criminal trespass and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, police said in a press release.
Helinski has been placed on leave by the Andover school district from his job as a teacher at Doherty Middle School, officials told WCVB-TV. He was released from custody after posting a personal recognizance bond and is scheduled to appear in court on October 29 at the 10th Circuit Court District Division in Salem.
The Video Shows Helinski Telling the Toddler to ‘Hurry Up’ as He Takes Prizes From the Machine
The video was recorded at the Mall at Rockingham Park on September 14. The minute-long clip shows a man now identified as Helinski encouraging a young child to hand him prizes from inside the video game machine. “Yeah, hurry up,” he can be heard saying at the beginning of the video while squatting at the opening of the machine while a young boy watched. Helinski can then be seen taking prizes out of the machine and handing them to the boy, who runs away with one yelling, “yes it worked!” Helinski can then be seen helping the toddler get out of the machine.
You can watch the video below:
“Investigation of the video revealed that the male subject had the small female toddler climb into the bottom portion of the game, designed for items won by a player to drop, and then reach up and grab various items, handing them to the male subject,” Salem police said in a press release posted September 14. “The male subject is described as a white Hispanic male, between 20-30 years of age, wearing a black Sig Sauer baseball cap, a beard, a blue T-Shirt, and black shorts with an Under Armor belt. The subject is wearing brown shoes or sneakers. In addition to the female toddler, another young child, perhaps 5 to 7 years of age, was with the male. After getting the small child out the game, the man left the area with the children and the stolen items.”
According to the Andover Public Schools website, Helinski teaches engineering in the integrated arts department at Doherty Middle School. “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,” a spokeswoman for Andover Public Schools said in a statement to WCVB-TV. “The teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.”
Salem Police Captain Joel Dolan said in a statement, “After the initial release, Salem Detectives received numerous tips leading to the identification of Helinski. An arrest warrant was issued on September 19th and Helinski immediately turned himself in with his attorney. The Salem Police Department would like to thank the media outlets who ran this story and the public for the information provided which led to the arrest in this case.”
Tony Helinski is originally from Salem, New Hampshire, and graduated from Central Catholic High School, according to a bio on the Suffolk University website, where he was a goalie on the college’s hockey team from 2002 to 2006.
Helinski was featured in a 2015 story in the Andover Townsman about his Doherty students competing in a model bridge competition. “This type of stuff wasn’t around when I was in school,” Helinski told the newspaper. “For these kids to now be able to use models and project-based learning to really apply concepts that have more of a hands-on feel, and concepts they see in everyday life, they’re not just reading out of a textbook. These projects are an extension to learning that can’t be bought.”
Helinski could not be reached for comment by Heavy.