A man who police say wandered onto Van Nuys Airport property, and entered a private jet that was undergoing maintenance has been arrested for allegedly causing $5,000 damage to the plane’s interior, Los Angeles Airport Police said Friday.
Chris Tolbert, 25, was booked for trespassing and vandalism at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys Community Police Station Jail, said airport police spokesman Rob Pedregon.
The incident happened at 4:25 p.m. Thursday as a vehicle drove through a security gate at Western Jet, a maintenance facility at 6101 Saticoy St.
“He walked behind the vehicle and of course the (driver) sees him and says ‘hey stop. Are you supposed to be here,’” said Pedregon. “And the guy said ‘yeah, I’m supposed to be here. He said he owned the airport.”
The driver was concerned and immediately called police.
When officers arrived, they found Tolbert smoking a cigarette in the cabin of a Gulfstream G4 that was parked in a hangar, Pedregon said.
He wrapped the cigarette in a handkerchief, which began to smolder and that damaged the jet’s interior, police said.
Western Jet declined comment on the matter.
Airport police are continuing to investigate the incident, said Pedregon.
At about 4:25 p.m. on Thursday, a homeless man climbed aboard a Gulfstream G4 private jet parked at Van Nuys airport and lit a cigarette. The man entered the airport through a vehicular entrance by following a maintenance car through the unguarded gate, according to the Daily News.
The driver of the vehicle noticed the man, and confronted him about his unauthorized entry. When asked about whether or not he was supposed to be there, 25-year-old Chris Tolbert replied simply that he was indeed supposed to be there, and that he "owned the airport."
Airport police were summoned, and by the time they found Tolbert he had taken refuge inside the $41 million executive aircraft. The plane was parked inside of an airport hangar, close to the intersection of Woodley Avenue and Saticoy Street, according to City News Service.
Upon police confrontation, Tolbert unsuccessfully extinguished the cigarette in a bandana he brought aboard. The resulting smoke and smoldering caused a reported $5,000 worth of damage to interior cabin of the (again) $41 million private jet.
As the Daily News tells us, Tolbert was arrested on both suspicion of trespassing and vandalism. Tolbert is also said to suffer from an unspecified type of mental illness.
Late in 2015, three private jets were graffiti tagged at the airport as well.