INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new FBI campaign aimed at stopping people from pointing lasers at airplanes comes as officials say dozens of such instances that can temporarily blind pilots have happened around Indiana.
Most of the more than 100 laser incidents reported in Indianapolis since 2012 involved aircraft flying into or out of the Indianapolis International Airport, according the FBI.
The FBI office in Indianapolis has received 19 laser reports this year through mid-May, agency spokeswoman Wendy Osborne told The Indianapolis Star.
Federal Aviation Administration records show dozens of other reports of laser pointers being aimed at planes around the state. Several reports came from larger cities such as Fort Wayne and Gary, but four also came last year from the rural community of Nabb in southern Indiana’s Scott County.
The FBI’s campaign that started this week offers $10,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest of anyone who threatens aircraft in a laser attack.
Indiana incidents have included two pilots who reported a green laser was aimed at their aircrafts in December as they approached Fort Wayne International Airport, according to The Journal Gazette. A Fort Wayne police officer later reported seeing a green beam pointed at a third plane that same night.
Another Indianapolis case involved a WRTV news helicopter flying over the city’s southeast side in August 2013.
Federal officials said the deliberate targeting of planes by people with hand-held lasers has increased significantly in recent years. In 2005, when the FBI and FAA began tracking such crimes, fewer than 300 laser attacks occurred. By last year, that number had increased to nearly 4,000, according to the FAA.
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