A California man lived behind the scenes at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for three months before he was detected, prosecutors say, in a case that raises questions about security at one of the world’s busiest travel hubs.
Aditya Singh, 36, arrived at O’Hare from Los Angeles on Oct. 19, 2020, and lived at the airport until he was discovered on Saturday, authorities say. He allegedly snatched an operations manager’s badge on Oct. 26 and spent much of his time inside the airport’s secure zone, where he lived off food from passengers and remained undetected for three months.
The squatter’s presence was discovered on Saturday, when two United Airlines employees confronted him and asked to see his ID. They noticed he wasn’t the same person on the badge and immediately called police.
Singh told authorities that he stayed at the airport because he was “scared to go home due to COVID(-19),” according to Illinois Assistant State’s Attorney Kathleen Hagerty.
The case left Cook County Judge Susan Ortiz stunned on Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“So if I understand you correctly,” Ortiz said, “you’re telling me that an unauthorized, non-employee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O’Hare airport terminal from Oct. 19, 2020, to Jan. 16, 2021, and was not detected?”
It’s unclear why Singh travelled to the Chicago airport in the first place.
The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), which oversees O’Hare airport, says it is investigating the incident.
“CDA has no higher priority than the safety and security of our airports, which is maintained by a coordinated and multilayered law enforcement network,” it said in a statement. “We have been able to determined that this gentleman did not pose a security risk to the airport or to the travelling public.”
Singh’s public defender told the Tribune that he lives in a suburb of L.A., does not have a criminal background and is not violent. She added that he has a master’s degree in hospitality and is unemployed.
Ortiz set Singh’s bail at $10,000, with the condition that he must not go to the airport again. He was still in jail on Monday morning, records show.
He is due back in court on Jan. 27.
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