FBI offers $10k to catch anyone pointing lasers at airplanes

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The FBI is offering a $10,000 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of someone who points a laser beam at an aircraft. The money is up for grabs for 60 days in a dozen U.S. cities including Los Angeles.

"It may seem like a prank, but pointing a laser at a cockpit of an aircraft — whether it's a helicopter, private plane or commercial jet — can disable the pilot and cause temporary blindness, and so we're hoping that we get the message across that it is a crime to point a laser," said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

The Federal Aviation Administration reports a steady uptick in the number of so-called "laser strikes" across the U.S. since it first started keeping track in 2005, rising from about 300 to almost 4,000 last year.

Portland, Ore., had the most reported instances, with 139, but Los Angeles was in the Top 10, The Associated Press reports. Also in the Top 10 were Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

While no crash has been attributed to a laser, in some cases pilots had to hand over control to another pilot, according to the AP.

Federal legislation passed in 2012 made it easier to prosecute these cases. The FBI has since successfully prosecuted two men at the federal level in Los Angeles. One man received 30 months in federal prison. The other faces up to 5 years when he's sentenced this year.

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