Man caught living in O'Hare for months, prosecutors say he was afraid to fly home due to COVID-19

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Man caught living in O'Hare for months was afraid to fly home during pandemic: prosecutors
Prosecutors said Aditya Singh lived in a secure area of O'Hare International Airport using a misplaced employee credential, and was afraid to fly home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 36-year-old allegedly lived inside O'Hare International Airport for three months before he was caught on Saturday.

Prosecutors said Aditya Singh was too afraid to fly back to Los Angeles due to COVID-19.

Cook County prosecutors said Singh was found with an airport worker's misplaced credentials and survived inside a secure area of O'Hare Airport.

Singh arrived at O'Hare's Terminal 2 on a flight from LA back on October 19th according to prosecutors, and has lived in the airport's security zone since then.

RELATED: O'Hare buzzes with holiday travelers despite COVID-19 pandemic

"That is an egregious violation after over $100 billion has been spent on aviation security in this country in the last 20 years," said Michael Masters, CEO of the Secure Community Network.

On Saturday, two United Airlines employees confronted Singh and asked to see his work ID, which had been reported as stolen by an airport operations manager, prosecutors said.

Singh was taken into custody and told authorities he found the credentials and was afraid to fly home in the pandemic.

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

Security experts said this shouldn't have been able to happen due to multiple levels of TSA safety and security, but it did.

"Those men and women have been under-resourced, have been under-trained, and they haven't been provided the equipment they need to do the job, so I think it's really important we don't dismiss this," Masters said.

Airline travel is down 60% to 70%, and that's visible at O'Hare terminals. Some travelers were unnerved, and think people need to be more aware like in Europe.

"I've lived here like 16 years and I am still noticing that every day you go somewhere and people don't even notice you, and you were walking around," said Aidas Darvidas.

The judge expressed shock that Singh wasn't detected earlier.

"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," the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement Monday morning. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners on a thorough investigation of this matter."

Singh's defense attorney made a request to allow Singh to fly home.

The judge denied that and set bail at $10,000.

Singh's public defender said he lives with roommates in Orange, Calif., southeast of Los Angeles, has a Master's degree in hospitality, and is unemployed. The public defender said Singh does not have a criminal background.

He's due back in court on Jan. 27.