The FBI, seeking to crack down on individuals pointing lasers at U.S. airplanes, is offering rewards of $10,000 for information leading to arrests.
"Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law," said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. "It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions."
If convicted of intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft -- which can temporarily blind pilots in the final crucial seconds before landing -- the charge carries a potential five-year prison term and a potential $250,000 fine, the FBI said.
Since it began tracking so-called "lasing" in 2005, there's been more than a 1,000 percent increase in incidents reported. In 2013, there were 3,960 suspected laser incidents.
The Airline Pilots Association has partnered with the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration to begin a new program in 12 of America's most heavily traveled cities, aiming to stop laser targeting. Public awareness campaigns will begin in the following cities: Albuquerque, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Cleveland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Washington, Chicago, and New York.
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Original headline: FBI cracking down on airplane laser targeting
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