SALEM, N.H. — An Andover middle school teacher is on administrative leave after allegedly using a toddler to help him steal from a game at the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, according to police.
Anthony Helinski, 34, of Lawrence surrendered to Salem police Wednesday — with an attorney by his side — after learning a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Helinski's attorney Christopher Coughlin said his client is "embarrassed and ashamed to find himself in this position," noting that "this allegation is not in line with his reputation and character."
The engineering teacher is facing three counts of theft, two counts of criminal trespassing and a count of endangering the welfare of a child, according to police.
He is free on personal recognizance bail and is expected back in court for arraignment on Oct. 29.
Coughlin did not comment on a potential plea.
Andover Superintendent Shelly Berman issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon: "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."
According to police reports, a witness to Helinski's alleged crime gave police cellphone footage of the unusual sight, which was posted on social media with a note that urged witnesses to come forward and help with the investigation.
A man, who police say is Helinski, can be seen on video prompting a little girl inside the KeyMaster game — where prizes are dropped by a winning player — near an open foyer in the mall.
Detectives were told the girl would reach up, grab various items and hand them to the suspect. Another young child, perhaps 5 to 7 years of age, was with them, police said.
After getting the little girl out the game, witnesses said the man left the area with the children and the stolen items, according to police.
Coughlin said the video evidence does not show the entire situation leading up to the arrest.
Police said after Helinski's arrest Wednesday that they were able to make an arrest thanks to numerous tips from the public.