California Man Hides Inside Airport for 3 Months To Avoid Returning to COVID-Hit State

A California man has been arrested after he was found living in the security zone of Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Aditya Singh, 36, reportedly told police he was too afraid to fly back to his home state over fears of contracting COVID-19. He had been hiding in a concealed area for three months before he was finally discovered on Saturday.

Singh arrived at O'Hare on a flight from Los Angeles on October 19 and had lived in the airport's security zone ever since, prosecutors allege.

It was only when two United Airlines employees approached Singh and asked to see his identification that he was finally caught out.

Aditya Singh
Aditya Singh, 36, was arrested after he was found hiding for 3 months in a secured area of Chicago's O’Hare International Airport. Chicago Police Department

Singh lowered his face mask to reveal a stolen airport ID badge that he was wearing around his neck, Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Hagerty said in a bond court on Sunday.

The badge is believed to have belonged to an operations manager who had reported it missing on October 26.

Singh is said to have found the badge in the airport and adopted it as his own in order to live in the building, where he had been relying on food given away by other passengers.

After the employees alerted authorities, police took Singh into custody just after 11 a.m. on Saturday inside Terminal 2, near Gate F12. The California local told officers he was "scared to go home due to COVID," Hagerty said.

Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz seemed in disbelief at the prosecutor's account of events.

"So if I understand you correctly," Ortiz said, "you're telling me that an unauthorized, nonemployee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O'Hare airport terminal from October 19, 2020, to January 16, 2021, and was not detected? I want to understand you correctly."

Singh, who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange, does not have a criminal background or a violent past, according to Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood.

O'Hare International Airport
File photo: Lufthansa Airlines Boeing 747-8 lands at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, where Aditya Singh, 36, found living in the security zone for three months before he was discovered on Saturday, January 16. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/Getty

The 36-year-old lives with roommates and has a master's degree in hospitality, but is currently unemployed.

It remains unclear what brought Singh to Chicago in the first place.

Judge Ortiz set bail conditions barring Singh from stepping foot in the airport again. 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," she 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."

Singh has been charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanor theft.

The Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees the city's airports, said the incident is still under investigation.

"CDA has no higher priority than the safety and security of our airports, which is maintained by a coordinated and multilayered law enforcement network," the agency told NBC Chicago. "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."

Newsweek has contacted the Chicago Police Department for comment.