Feb. 13--Aiming to crack down on losers who point lasers at aircraft, the FBI announced yesterday they'll give rewards of up to $10,000 for tips leading to the arrest of illegal laser pointers.
Such incidents have skyrocketed 1,100 percent since 2005, when the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration began tracking the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers. In 2013, 3,960 laser strikes were reported, averaging almost 11 incidents a day, according to the FBI.
The FBI's regional reward program will run for 60 days in 12 FBI field offices, including Philadelphia's. FBI agents, working with local police, also plan to educate teens about the dangers.
"Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law," said Ron Hosko, the FBI Criminal Investigative Division's assistant director. "This is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions."
Shining a laser into an aircraft's cockpit can temporarily blind a pilot, jeopardizing passengers' safety, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.
Authorities say thousands of laser attacks go unreported every year. They urge anyone who sees someone pointing a laser at an aircraft or knows of such activity to call the FBI at 215-418-4000.
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Police searched the area until 4 a.m. but came up with no leads, said Dearborn Heights Police Capt. Lee Gavin. No one was injured in the incidents.
An Illinois man could face charges after a Flight for Life helicopter was targeted with a laser beam.
Airliner landed safely at O'Hare