Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 10:12 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

$10,000 rewards in fight against aircraft laser attacks

FBI is offering reward following increase in people targeting planes with handheld lasers.


Associated Press

advertising

ST. LOUIS — Silence your cellphone. Save the movie commentary for later. And if you know someone who aims a laser pointer at an airplane, give us a call.

A new FBI campaign will place public safety messages during movie previews and is offering rewards of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone who threatens aircraft in a laser attack.

The effort builds on a pilot program launched in February in a dozen cities, including Chicago, Houston, New York, Phoenix and Washington.

For the next 90 days, the bureau’s 56 field offices are offering the rewards.

Federal officials said the deliberate targeting of planes by people with handheld lasers has increased significantly in recent years. In 2005, when the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration began tracking such crimes, fewer than 300 laser attacks occurred. By last year, that number had increased to nearly 4,000, according to the FAA.

“It’s usually young people horsing around,” said Edward Reinhold, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s St. Louis office. “They’re just unaware of (the dangers).”

“Here’s a pointer,” the public service announcement reads. “Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime.”

Sgt. Dan Cunningham, a helicopter pilot with the St. Louis County Police Department, said he’s been “lased” numerous times in recent years by powerful beams that can be seen from nearly 1 mile away.

“I don’t know that anybody realizes how much of an effect it has on an aircraft,” he said. “It completely blinds you.”

In California, a 26-year-old man was convicted in March of shining a laser pointer at a Fresno police helicopter and a hospital helicopter in the Central Valley. A federal judge sentenced Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, of Clovis, to 14 years in prison.



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►