Man hides at Chicago airport for months to avoid COVID-19 | News | DW | 18.01.2021
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Man hides at Chicago airport for months to avoid COVID-19

A man who hid at Chicago's O'Hare Airport for three months — claiming he was scared of flying home and catching coronavirus — has been charged with a felony. Aditya Singh had been living in a restricted security area.

USA Aditya Singh

It's unclear what links Singh, from Los Angeles, had with the Chicago area or why he had gone there

A California man was charged with felony criminal trespass after he was arrested accused of hiding in a restricted area of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport for three months.

The 36-year-old Aditya Singh told police that the coronavirus pandemic had left him afraid to fly. He was also charged with misdemeanor theft after allegedly stealing an airport security badge.

A judge ruled that the man could be released if he paid $1,000, but also barred Singh from setting foot in the airport again.

Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz expressed concern that someone could remain in a secured area for so long without being detected.

"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," she said.

Suspicions aroused among staff

Two United Airlines employees eventually spotted Singh and grown suspicious, assistant States Attorney Kathleen Hagerty said. 

USA O'Hare International Airport Chicago

O'Hare is the world's sixth-busiest airport, serving 83 million passengers in 2018

When asked for identification, Singh showed them a badge that belonged to an operations manager in the restricted area. The manager, however, reported it missing in late October. The employees alerted police, who arrested Singh.

Hagerty said he had told the officers he was "scared to go home due to COVID." He said he had found the badge and that he had survived on food given to him by other passengers at the airport.

Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood said it was unclear why Los Angeles resident Singh, who is unemployed, came to Chicago, or whether he had any connections with the area.

Despite being granted bail, Singh — who has no criminal record — remained in jail early on Monday.

rc/dj (AFP, EFE)

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