Citing a massive increase in reports of illegal flashing of lasers toward aircraft, the
Reports of people pointing lasers at aircraft have ballooned nationwide, jumping from 384 in 2006 to 3,960 in 2013, according to the
Los Angeles and Sacramento were both involved in that February pilot program, which lasted for 60 days, but federal officials said Tuesday they needed to address the problem on a national scale.
The rewards will be available for the next 90 days, the FBI said. Those convicted of pointing a laser at an aircraft could face up to five years in federal prison, said Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
California often leads the country in reports of flashing lasers at aircraft, Eimiller said. Federal records also show the number of reported incidents have increased in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego and Oakland from 2011 to 2013.
Eimiller said the reward, and recent successful prosecutions, could help reduce the number of incidents. This year, a 31-year-old Boyle Heights man appeared in court to answer charges that he flashed a laser at a Los Angeles County sheriff's helicopter in November. A Colorado man pleaded guilty to a similar crime last year.
Nationwide, the FBI investigated 152 reported laser incidents involving aircraft in 2012 and 2013. The agency took enforcement action against suspects in 96 of those cases.