A man was discovered to have been living in a secure area of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for the past three months after claiming he was too afraid of contracting COVID-19 to return home to Los Angeles. Aditya Singh, 36, was arrested last weekend and charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanor theft, the Chicago Tribune reports.
- Singh had been living in the airport for nearly 12 weeks. Prosecutors revealed that Singh arrived at O’Hare from Los Angeles on October 19, 2020 but never returned home. Months later, he was approached by two United Airlines employees who requested identification given that the man was in a secure area of the airport. Singh then produced a stolen ID badge which had been reported missing by an airport operations manager on October 26 last year.
- He survived on food provided to him by fellow passengers. While it’s unclear whether he was begging in the airport or if other passengers voluntarily offered him food, it was claimed that Singh survived for the past three months on donated food.
- Singh was arrested immediately upon his discovery. Singh, who doesn’t have a criminal background, told authorities that he was “too scared to go home due to COVID.” While he has a master’s degree in hospitality, he is said to be unemployed and had been living with roommates in Los Angeles prior to moving into the airport.
- How can someone go undetected in a supposedly secure airport for months? Cook County judge Susana Ortiz was in shock that a man could live in an area of the airport that should have been secure for months on end without being detected. “You’re telling me that an unauthorized, non-employee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O’Hare airport terminal from 10 October, 2020, to 16 January, 2021, and was not detected? I want to understand you correctly,” she is said to have told the court.
- The judge found him to be a possible danger to the public. As she told the courtroom, according to The Guardian: “The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred. Being in a secured part of the airport under a fake ID badge allegedly, based upon the need for airports to be absolutely secure so that people feel safe to travel, I do find those alleged actions do make him a danger to the community.” She set his bail at $1,000, though he’s barred from entering the airport again.
- The Chicago Department of Aviation insists that Singh posed no danger. They say they take the safety of their passengers seriously and while an investigation is ongoing, passengers shouldn’t worry about this. “CDA has no higher priority than the safety and security of our airports, which is maintained by a coordinated and multilayered law enforcement network,” CDA said in a statement. “While this incident remains under investigation, we have been able to determine that this gentleman did not pose a security risk to the airport or to the traveling public. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners on a thorough investigation of this matter.”