AP Investigation Details DC-Area Airport Perimeter Breaches

Over the last decade, homeless men, a job seeker, even a skateboarder and a stranded boater have gotten past perimeter security at the D.C. region's major airports, according to an Associated Press investigation.

The investigation found eight breaches at Washington Dulles, and one each at Reagan National and Baltimore Washington International airports.

Nationally, there have been at least 268 perimeter security breaches at 31 major U.S. airports from January 2004 through January 2015, AP found. Incidents ranged from fence jumpers taking shortcuts and intoxicated drivers crashing through barriers to mentally ill intruders looking to hop flights. None was terrorism-related.

Airports say breaches are relatively rare. Security measures typically include fences, cameras and patrols, but there are gaps. Not all of the miles of fences are routinely patrolled or covered by video surveillance.

Dulles identified seven breaches; AP found one other in media reports. Incidents included homeless people looking for a place to sleep or clean themselves up, or people getting lost. In 2008, a man crawled under the security fence, then skateboarded away. Workers for a catering company eventually stopped him. In 2007, a man ran onto a taxiway after being denied boarding onto an international flight by following a catering truck through a gate and jumping a fence.

The lone incident at Reagan Airport, which runs alongside the Potomac River, occurred in 2008 when a boater came ashore and climbed a fence after his motor conked out on him.

At Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the only perimeter breach uncovered in the AP's review occurred in 2012, when a person drove through an open gate as an airport vehicle was exiting. After questioning, authorities determined it was a mistake and escorted the driver off airport property.

Often, those who are found inside the perimeter are charged with trespassing. Occasionally, no charges are filed.

Christopher M. Paolino, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said in an emailed statement that airport police and operations workers work with federal agencies ``to ensure our airports and passengers remain safe and secure.''

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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