A man has been arrested after it was discovered he had been living inside what was meant to be a secure area of Chicago O'Hare International Airport for three months because he was "too scared to fly during the COVID-19 pandemic".
The Chicago Police Department confirmed to Newshub that 36-year-old Aditya Singh was arrested and charged with felony trespass to a restricted area at an airport and misdemeanour theft on Saturday (local time).
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz was taken aback by how the incident had occured in the first place.
"So if I understand you correctly, you're telling me that an unauthorised, non-employee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O'Hare airport terminal from October 19 to January 16, and was not detected? I want to understand you correctly," Ortiz said to the prosecution.
It's alleged the man's luck came to an end when he was approached by two United Airlines employees who asked to see his identification.
The ID he was carrying belonged to someone else and had been reported missing. Police were called and the man was arrested near a departure gate inside the terminal building.
Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Hagerty told the court Singh had found the badge and was "scared to go home due to COVID".
Singh's bail has been set at US$1000 and he has been banned from entering Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
The judge said although Singh's actions were non-violent, they did breach serious security laws.
"The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred," Ortiz 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 lives in Los Angeles and has a master's degree in hospitality. He will reappear in court before the end of the month.