A 36-year-old Indian-origin man was arrested in the Chicago airport where he had been living undetected for the past three months reportedly because he was too scared to fly due to the coronavirus pandemic, US authorities said.
Aditya Singh, who resides in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, was arrested for trespassing in a secure area at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport where he had been living since October 19, according to media reports.
Singh has been charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanour theft, the report said.
Prosecutors told a court that Singh arrived at O'Hare on a flight from Los Angeles on October 19 and allegedly has lived in the airport's security zone ever since, without detection. He was arrested after two United Airlines staff asked him to produce his identification. He showed them a badge, but it reportedly belonged to an operations manager who had reported it missing in October.
He reportedly found the staff badge in the airport and was "scared to go home due to COVID", Assistant State Attorney Kathleen Hagerty said.
The airline employees called 911. Police took Singh into custody on Saturday morning in Terminal 2 near Gate F12.
Aditya Singh managed to live on handouts from other passengers, Hagerty told Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz. Singh has been barred from entering the airport if he is able to post the USD 1,000 for bail. He is due back in court on January 27.
"The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred," the judge said.
"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," Ortiz said.
The Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees the city's airports, 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 travelling public."