A 36-year-old California man lived inside Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for three months, before he was caught on Saturday.

When finally confronted over the weekend, Aditya Singh told police he was “scared to go home due to COVID”.

Prosecutors said Singh flew to O’Hare’s Terminal 2 on a flight from Los Angeles on October 19 and managed to live undetected in a secure section of the airport until Saturday, January 16, 2021.

On Saturday, two United Airlines employees approached Aditya Singh and asked to see his work ID that he was wearing around his neck. The badge had been reported as stolen on October 26, 2020, by an airport operations manager. The United Airlines employees called 911 and police took him into custody.

Singh claims he found the badge, and said other travellers gave him food. He is charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area and misdemeanour theft. As a condition of his $1,000 bail, Singh is prohibited from stepping foot in O’Hare again.

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

“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 Oct. 19, 2020, to Jan. 16, 2021, and was not detected?”

Singh lives with roommates in a suburb of Los Angeles, and does not have a criminal background, according to Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood. She added he has a master’s degree in hospitality and is unemployed.

He is due back in court on Jan. 27.