A man was caught on camera allegedly using his child to steal prizes out of a vending machine game at a mall. The man, identified as Anthony Helsinki, was arrested on Wednesday after a video of the incident has been widely shared and pointed to him as the thief.
Last Friday, several witnesses recorded a video of the incident at The Mall at Rockingham Park. A man had a small girl go inside a Key Master game, grab prizes, and pass it outside to him, as seen on the video.
During most of the video, the small girl was not visible. All that can be seen is the man with another child, who is a slightly older boy, standing outside joyfully grabbing multiple prizes including a Nintendo Switch and a Gameboy DS. The girl then emerged from the small opening at the bottom of the vending machine, video shows.
The video, which was posted by the police in hopes to identify the thief, garnered thousands of views and generated information that pointed to Anthony Helsinki.
Helsinki, who is 34 years old, quickly turned himself in after an arrest warrant against him has been issued on Wednesday. He is facing charges of endangering the welfare of a child, three counts of theft and two counts of criminal trespassing, police said.
Joel Dolan, a Salem police captain, said the incident was very unusual. He told Miami Herald, “Obviously we’ve had thefts from vending machines. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone direct a child inside one.”
A middle school teacher at Andover Public Schools, Helsinki “has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation,” said the school’s spokesperson.
Helsinki is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment on October 29.