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Teacher Accused of Having Toddler Climb Inside Game Machine to Steal Prizes

Photograph by Twenty20

A teacher apparently wanted some big-ticket prizes so much that he took advantage of a toddler's ability to fit into small spaces. On Monday, the Salem (New Hampshire) Police Department posted a video on Facebook asking for help identifying a man who used a little girl to steal items from a game machine.

The video shows the man squatting in front of the machine as the toddler, who is inside the machine, hands him prizes that look like game consoles. He coaches her how to position her body until she is seen climbing out of the machine. Another child in the video can be heard getting excited when the prizes are out. Police blurred out the children's faces in the video.

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, witnesses at the mall took photos and videos of the theft. The machine, BarBerCut Lite produced by Bandai Namco, can include valuable prizes like game systems and high-value electronics. If played fairly (you know, not with a handy-dandy toddler), users are supposed to use two control buttons to make scissors cut a string suspending the prize. Police said after the child got out, the man took the stolen items and left the area with the girl and another young child.

People were outraged by what was seen in the video, criticizing the man for not only teaching children to cheat and steal but also for endangering a child. Others wondered why none of the passersby stopped the theft.

After getting numerous tips about the man's identity, police sought an arrest warrant on Wednesday. The man, 34-year-old Anthony Helinski, immediately turned himself in with his attorney.

Helinski could be facing several charges, including unauthorized taking, criminal trespassing and endangering the welfare of a child, WFXT reported. He is also a middle school teacher employed by Andover Public Schools and has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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