The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information that sheds light on the identity of pranksters who point lasers at planes.
The new incentive intends to deter people with laser pointers from pointing them at aircraft -- which is a felony -- and encourage informants to come forward. An FBI press release reminds the public that this criminal activity is "dangerous" and has "potentially deadly" repercussions.
So how can tipsters get their rewards for ratting out laser-pointer perpetrators?
Pointing Lasers at Aircraft Is a Felony
Laser pointers may have started out as a presentation aid for high-powered business meetings, but they mostly ended up in the hands of middle school jokesters who delight in shining them on just about anything. And while owning a laser pointer isn't illegal, using it in certain ways can be incredibly illegal.
Shining one on a uniformed officer can get you shipped off to federal prison, and shining them on any aircraft has similar consequences.
The Federal Aviation Administration took particular notice in 2010 to an increase in "laser strikes" on airplanes. The FAA's worries are well grounded, as shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft can blind the pilots and crew, placing the aircraft and its passengers in real danger.
This risk of blinding pilots was one of many reasons that President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 into law, which made pointing lasers at planes a federal felony. A person who knowingly points a laser pointer at an aircraft can spend up to five years in federal prison.
FBI Reward Aimed at 12 Major Cities
In order to really cement this crackdown on laser pointers and airplanes, the FBI has offered a $10,000 reward for tips in prosecuting these laser pointer perps. But in order to collect the ten grand, tipsters must provide information that leads to an arrest under the federal laser pointer law.
As of Tuesday's press release, the FBI has offices in 12 major cities which are participating in the laser-pointer reward program: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Chicago; Cleveland; Houston; Los Angeles; New York City; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Sacramento, California; San Antonio; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Washington, D.C.
If you have a tip and would like to report a laser-pointer offense, contact your local FBI office or simply call 911.
- FBI offers reward for tips on lasers shone into aircraft cockpits (Reuters)
- Are Laser Pointers Illegal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Clark Gable's Grandson Gets 10 Days in Jail for Laser Pointing (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- Are Radar Jammers Illegal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)