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Teacher Arrested for Cramming His Kid Inside a Claw Machine to Rob It

Middle school teacher Anthony Helinski is now facing a string of criminal charges, including child endangerment and theft.
Images via the Salem PD

All carnival games are scams. The ring toss is rigged and the bottles are weighted and the basketball hoop is bent so your ball can't get in. But no game of skill or chance or whatever is as truly frustrating as the lowly claw machine. It just seems so simple: Position the claw above some stuffed animal, hit the button, and get ready for your new life of cuddling with a plush dog covered in freakish blue fur! Alas, it is not. The claw always somehow loses its grip at the last possible moment and you must return home, dejected, with no stuffed critter in tow.


But, according to police in New Hampshire, one man decided to take matters into his own hands and finally beat the claw game once and for all—by convincing his child to climb inside and steal the prizes for him, ABC News reports.

Earlier this week, Salem, New Hampshire, police released a video on Facebook of the man and his small daughter raiding a claw machine in a local mall, hoping that the public would help them figure out the identity of the toy thief and his toddler accomplice.

“Turn around, sit your butt right here," the man says in the video, talking his young child through the process while she's inside the machine. "Now you can stand up." Finally successfully positioned inside the game, the toddler begins handing prizes out through the game's slot, including boxes of what appear to be electronics.

A few days after the video made the rounds online, Massachusetts middle school teacher Anthony Helinski admitted to being the claw robber and turned himself in—and he's now facing a string of criminal charges, including child endangerment and theft. The 34-year-old has also been placed on leave from his—surprise!—engineering teaching gig following the accusations.

"One of our teachers at the Doherty Middle School was involved in an incident in Salem, N.H. last week," Andover Superintendent Shelly Berman said in a statement, according to the Eagle-Tribune. "Andover Public Schools is fully cooperating with authorities. The teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation."


Still, news of his arrest seems to have outraged some of his loyal students, who have taken to his Rate My Teacher page to call for the guy's release.

As understandable as it may be for someone to want to exact sweet revenge on the supremely frustrating claw machine, it's no excuse to put a kid in a potentially dangerous situation. Luckily, the girl was able to slip back out of the slot, but even if she hadn't, she wouldn't have been the first kid to get trapped inside that infuriating machine.

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