FBI Offering $10,000 Rewards To Help Catch People Pointing Lasers At Airplanes

The government meant it before when the Federal Aviation Authority said it: Pointing lasers at planes flying overhead is a really bad idea and could hurt the pilot or otherwise muck up that aircraft’s flight. To drive that point home, a new FBI campaign is offering a hefty reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest of just such a laser user.

Using public safety commercials during the previews of movies, the FBI is trying to spread the word that it’s willing to pay big money — $10,000 — to anyone that can help it track down laser attacks on planes, reports the Associated Press.

This particular pitch is focused in the St. Louis area, and is part of an expanded pilot program the FBI launched in February in a bunch of cities like Chicago, Houston, New York and others.

It’ll run for 90 days, with 56 FBI field offices offering the rewards. The Feds want to crack down on laser hits on planes, because in recent years more and more people have apparently been deliberately aiming for airplanes with the handheld lasers.

In 2005, there were fewer than 300 attacks. But last year, that number was at 4,000, the FAA said.

“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).”

A chain of movie theaters will be showing the PSAs, which warn users of the dangers of flashing those things willy-nilly.

“Here’s a pointer,” it reads. “Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime.”

Or just think about if you’re the passenger on a plane. Do you want your pilot and his crew to be blinded while ferrying your mortal bodies through the air? Didn’t think so.

FBI goes to movies to target laser at planes [Associated Press]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.