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FBI Offers Big Reward To Rat Out People Who Aim Lasers At Aircraft

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 says 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. We are now in this year averaging over seven times a month," she said. 

Those are numbers for Washington state. Dietrich says in Idaho, a single Idaho 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.


Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

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