Woman’s Repeated Breaches at Airports Expose Ongoing Holes in Security

January 20, 2018 A woman with a history of sneaking aboard commercial airplanes slipped past security at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport this week and was en route to London when the airline realized she didn’t have a ticket.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says Marilyn Hartman was brought back to Chicago on Thursday night and taken into custody once she arrived. Hartman was charged with felony theft and a misdemeanor count of criminal trespassing.

In February 2016, authorities confirmed Marilyn had attempted to board flights without a ticket nearly 20 times. In addition to Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, she has been arrested several times for trying to stow away on flights in California, Minnesota, Florida and Arizona.

An Associated Press investigation in 2016 found that people climbed over or crashed cars through security fencing around Chicago’s two main airports more than authorities have disclosed. In one incident, a man tossed a bike over a fence at O’Hare and made it inside a passenger terminal. Between 2004 and 2015, there were at least 12 intrusions at O’Hare and Midway Airports.

In 2010, former security chief at O’Hare International Airport, James Maurer called O’Hare the least secure airport in the country. Maurer alleged in a lawsuit filed against the city of Chicago that he was fired after repeatedly voiced concerns about “potentially catastrophic terrorist opportunities” at the airport.

Since the 9/11 attacks, aviation security experts have repeatedly warned the high number of incidents in which unauthorized individuals breach perimeter security, including tarmacs exposes a vulnerability found at airports across the country. Dozens of independent studies by the Government Accountability Office and even FBI and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General studies have revealed ongoing gaping holes both inside airports and in perimeter security.

Reports of airport perimeter security breaches are alarming, and they are more common than most Americans realize. While most incidents result in little damage, the what might have been is chilling – and often unreported. Among the most serious security breaches reported at airports involved teenagers in two separate incidents who managed to sneak into the wheel wells of commercial airliners undetected. In 2010, Delvonte Tisdale, 16, died after falling out of a commercial airliner en route to Boston’s Logan International Airport from Charlotte Douglas International Airport. In 2014, another teen hid in a landing gear wheel well on a commercial flight from San Jose, California, to Maui, Hawaii but managed to survive.

SEE ALSO: Fort Lauderdale Airport Attack was Premeditated


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