- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The security perimeter at Salt Lake City International Airport has been breached eight times in the last decade, including once by a man who scaled a fence, broke into a building and caused activity on a runway to be temporarily shut down.

The Utah breaches were among 268 at 31 major U.S. airports between January 2004 and January 2015 documented in an Associated Press investigation.

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.

At Salt Lake City’s airport, which has 21.5 miles of perimeter fencing, six incidents involved people getting through secure gates, airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann said.

Salt Lake City is the nation’s 25th busiest airport as measured by the number of people boarding planes, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Comparing breaches to airports with similar traffic, Salt Lake City ranks in the middle. San Diego had three breaches; Portland had five; Washington Dulles had eight; and Tampa had 13.

Incidents at Salt Lake included:

- On Nov. 19, 2008, a man from South Carolina climbed a barbed wire fence, broke into a building and stole some items. As a precaution, one runway and two taxiways were shut for 10 minutes. The man wasn’t threatening anybody or any airplanes, but police were concerned by what they described as his paranoid and erratic behavior. He told them everybody was after him and that they were going to be paid $90,000 to kill him. He was arrested but was not charged.

- On June 19, 2007, a man was arrested after he followed an authorized vehicle through a security gate to where he thought he could return his rental car. He told police he realized he “goofed” when he saw only airplanes ahead. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The charge was dismissed after he completed a year of probation.

- On April 1, 2007, a woman from Sandy was trying to pick up her pilot boyfriend when she followed an authorized vehicle through a security gate. She was arrested and charged; a judge found her not guilty.

While the larger airports that AP focused on have more traffic, smaller airports also have breaches. In 2012, for example, a SkyWest Airlines pilot suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend threw a rug over razor wire atop the fence at a small Utah airport, stole an empty 50-passenger jet which he crashed as he taxied near a terminal, then shot and killed himself.


Associated Press writers Martha Mendoza in San Jose, California, and Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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