The FBI is offering rewards up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of people who have aimed laser pointers at aircraft. Deliberate targeting of aircraft in flight has increased significantly in the last couple of years in the Northwest.
The $10,000 reward offer is good for the next 90 days. The FBI wants to protect pilots from being temporarily blinded at night by laser pointers aimed playfully or maliciously from the ground.
In Seattle, bureau spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich said she's alarmed by a rise in pilot complaints.
"It has increased in frequency from an average of about 3.5 'lasing' incidents per month in 2012 to a little over six times a month in 2013," Dietrich said. "We are now in this year averaging over seven times a month."
Those are numbers for Washington state. Dietrich said in Idaho, a single pilot complained in 2012. That jumped to 10 reported lasings last year. In Oregon though, the frequency has reversed. This may be due to the well publicized arrest last year of a Northeast Portland man accused of aiming a laser pointer at two jetliners.
Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.