FBI Cracks Down On Lasers Aimed At Planes, Offers $10K Reward

(FBI photo/file)

(June 3, 2014) In response to an increase in incidents in which high-powered lasers were aimed at aircraft in Central Texas and around the state and the U.S., the FBI launched a campaign Tuesday to crack down on those responsible for laser-strikes and offered a reward of as much as $10,000 for information leading to arrests.

From 2010 to 2013, more than 30 such incidents were reported in Waco and Killeen.

In April 2013, an Elm Mott man was arrested after a laser was aimed at a Department of Public Safety helicopter.

Since 2005 when the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration began tracking the strikes, the number of incidents has increased by more than 1,100 percent, authorities said Tuesday.

Since the launch of a pilot program in February that offered the reward through 12 FBI field offices including San Antonio, the reported incidents have dropped by 19 percent, the FBI said.

“Although our previous efforts to raise public awareness have shown early signs of success in reducing the number of laser attacks in those 12 cities, the laser threat remains a problem on a much larger scale,” said Joseph Campbell, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“We hope to build on our success through this national campaign in an effort to reduce the overall threat.”

Under federal law, pointing a laser at an aircraft is a felony offense punishable by as much as five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.

Under Texas state law, it’s a Class A misdemeanor punishable by as much as one year in jail and a fine of as much as $4,000.

Tips about laser strikes can be phoned in to the San Antonio FBI office at (210) 225-6741 or submitted online.