LOS ANGELES — Police say a mentally ill homeless man sneaked through a vehicle entrance at a Los Angeles airport, boarded an executive jet — and then when confronted put out a cigarette, causing $5,000 in damage to the plane’s interior Thursday.
The 25-year-old man, whom police did not identify, walked through an unmanned gate at the Van Nuys Airport fence line which opened for a vehicle to enter. The airport serves noncommercial flights.
Los Angeles Airport Police Officer Rob Pedregon says the driver saw the intruder, who insisted he owned the airport, and continued walking into a hangar. There he boarded a parked Gulfstream G4.
Employees found him inside, smoking. He extinguished the cigarette in a bandanna he brought, and the fabric began smoldering, causing the damage.
Police arrested him on suspicion of trespassing and vandalism.
Pedregon says the Gulfstream maintenance company Western Jet Aviation was responsible for security at the gate. The company had no comment Friday.
The airport has seen several other intrusions in recent months, including an incident in which taggers spray painted three jets. An Associated Press investigation showed that, nationally, people get past airport perimeter security more often than authorities publicly acknowledge.