"It shows how things can slip through the cracks."
A 36-year-old Indian man managed to live at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for nearly three months before he was eventually arrested.
Aditya Singh, of California, was subsequently charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanour theft.
According to police, Singh travelled to O’Hare on October 19, 2020, from Los Angeles, however, he was afraid to fly home because of Covid-19.
Transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said:
“It shows how things can slip through the cracks.
“You get an idea at the airport and can go weeks without being detected. It’s really remarkable that in this day and age and security, this occurred.”
Singh was finally caught on January 16, 2021, when two United Airlines employees confronted him.
He displayed an airport ID badge, but it actually belonged to an operations manager who had reported it missing on October 26.
The workers subsequently called the police and he was later charged.
Mr Schwieterman said: “A lot of people no doubt look back and are embarrassed, gate agents, that probably saw this individual.”
At a hearing on January 17, prosecutors said that the Indian man was “scared to go home due of Covid”.
Singh said he was able to survive his nearly three-month-long stay at the airport by getting food from other passengers. He also claimed that he had found the badge.
During the hearing, it was heard that it was not clear why Singh travelled to Chicago in the first place.
Singh’s bail was set at $1,000 and he was ordered to stay out of O’Hare International Airport.
Mr Schwieterman added: “There is no real risk to safety here, that’s the good news.
“It just shows how different parts may not talk to each other, question each other.”
The Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees the city’s airports, released a statement regarding 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.
“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 travelling public.
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners on a thorough investigation of this matter.”