As the global pandemic brought many aspects of life to a standstill, millions of people still managed to fly across the country, including more than 29 million on US airlines in October alone.
Among these passengers was Aditya Singh. But on October 19, he did what few passengers had ever done: he got off his plane, entered an airport, and just never left it.
Singh, 36, from Orange County, California, who managed to avoid detection at O’Hare International Airport for three months, was arrested on Saturday and charged with impersonating in a restricted area of the airport and stealing fewer than 500 U.S. Dollar charged. said Chicago Police Information Officer Karie James.
Mr Singh appeared in court on Sunday when his bond was set at $ 10,000. He remained in Cook County Jail on Tuesday, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
Mr. Singh, who had flown from Los Angeles to O’Hare, one of the largest airports in the country, somehow went unnoticed as he roamed endlessly through a web of sidewalks, waiting areas, toilets and restaurants that countless other passengers and pilots and employees come through every day on the way to a different location.
When two United Airlines employees turned to Mr Singh on Saturday and asked for ID, he showed them an airport ID that belonged to an airport operator and had been reported missing in October, according to The Chicago Tribune, which reported the arrest on Sunday. The staff then called 911 and the police took Mr. Singh into custody shortly after 11 a.m. that day.
A prosecutor in the Cook County Prosecutor’s Office said Mr Singh was “afraid to go home about Covid,” The Tribune reported.
In a statement, the Chicago Department of Aviation said it “has no higher priority than the security of our airports, which is maintained by a coordinated and multi-layered law enforcement network.” The agency added that the case was being investigated further and that Mr Singh “did not pose a security risk to the airport or the traveling public”.
An airport official with knowledge of the episode said there was no evidence that Mr Singh left a safe side of the airport. This person also said the airport did not have a written policy stating how long a ticketed passenger must leave the airport.
“With Mr. Singh’s case pending, we will not comment on his case at this time,” said Courtney Smallwood, a deputy public defense attorney at Cook County’s public defense law firm who represents Mr. Singh. Another defense attorney, Connie Jordan, said the office would not make Mr. Singh available for an interview.
It wasn’t immediately clear what might have drawn Mr. Singh to Chicago or whether he had ties to the region.
According to Mr Singh’s Facebook page, he is from New Delhi and lives in Orange, California.
His LinkedIn profile states that he is self-employed and works as a director at Bubby LLC, providing social media, video production, and digital marketing for Bubby Bear, a stuffed animal who travels with a yellow duck friend. The bear has a YouTube channel that featured Mr. Singh at community events such as a race last February in Anaheim, California.
In the fall of 2018, Mr. Singh began a master’s degree in hospitality administration at Oklahoma State University, a spokeswoman confirmed. He graduated in the summer of 2019, she said.
According to a university website, Mr. Singh has a degree in economics from the University of London with a research focus on reducing food waste and also “the area of family choice”.
Previously, according to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Singh was Deputy Managing Director and Senior Analyst at Deloitte, the auditing, consulting, tax and consulting company.
Mr. Singh’s next trial is scheduled for January 27th, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sheelagh McNeill did the research.