Anthony Helinski, a 34-year-old Massachusetts middle school teacher employed by Andover Public Schools, has been charged with two counts of criminal trespassing, three counts of criminal theft, and endangering the welfare of a child after allegedly putting his toddler into a mall claw game machine to steal toys. As the New York Post reported, the crime took place at the Mall of Rockingham Park in Salem on September 14. A witness recorded the incident on their cell phone, and police issued the video on Facebook in an attempt to identify the suspect, an attempt that seemingly worked.
The cell phone footage reveals the thief giving instructions to the young toddler on how to maneuver herself inside the machine, and then he gives the stolen goods to a young boy after the young girl tosses the toys out of the machine. Video game systems are among the merchandise that were stolen.
The young boy looks to be between 4 and 7 years old, and both children are reportedly Helinski’s kids. The suspect can also be heard giving the toddler instructions on how to remove herself from the game, and then the young child can be seen exiting the machine. Thankfully, the young toddler appears to be healthy and didn’t appear to have any injuries from climbing in and out of the machine. A hostess at a Mall of Rockingham Park restaurant witnessed the crime and called security.
JUST IN: Lawrence man charged with stealing from toy machine at Rockingham Park Mall. Police say Anthony Helinski had a toddler climb into the toy machine to get items pic.twitter.com/upZ41JnkxB
— WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) September 19, 2018
After learning that he had a warrant out for his arrest, Anthony Helinski turned himself in on Wednesday, September 19. The police said they were able to identify the suspect because of numerous tips from the public. Helinski is currently out on personal recognizance bail.
As documented by the Eagle Tribune, Helinski’s attorney, Christopher Coughlin, said that Anthony is “embarrassed and shamed to find himself in this position,” and that “this allegation is not in line with his reputation and character.”
Christopher Coughlin stated that the footage doesn’t reveal the entire story that lead up to the teacher’s arrest, but the attorney didn’t elaborate.
Andover Superintendent Shelly Berman released a statement stating that Helinski had been put on administrative leave, as the Eagle Tribune reported.
“One of our teachers at the Doherty Middle School was involved in an incident in Salem, N.H. last week. Andover Public Schools is fully cooperating with authorities. The teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.”
Anthony Helinski is expected to be arraigned on October 29.