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FBI: Laser Strikes At Airplanes Up 39 Percent In NY In 2013

Incidents Also On The Rise Nationwide, FBI Says
What a pilot sees when someone on the ground shines a laser into the cockpit. (Photo: CBS 2)

What a pilot sees when someone on the ground shines a laser into the cockpit. (Photo: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A $10,000 reward is being offered by the FBI for information leading to the arrest of individuals who aim lasers at airplanes.

There has been a more than 1,100 percent increase nationwide in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with hand-held lasers since the FBI began tracking laser strikes in 2005.

Laser incidents in New York were up 39 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Many of the New York laser incidents have injured pilots and their crews, according to the FBI. The latest injury was reported on Dec. 26, 2013, by a JetBlue pilot on approach to  John F. Kennedy International Airport.  The JetBlue pilot experienced blurry vision for over a week after being temporarily blinded by a laser.

Laser incidents are often viewed as harmless acts; this couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “A laser pointed at a plane’s cockpit could blind a pilot and down an aircraft. We are asking anyone who knows anything about the recent spate of incidents to pick up the phone and call the FBI for the safety of all who fly.”

There were 52 reported laser incidents in the New York area in 2010. That number increased to 99 in 2013.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. A reward is available for information that leads to the arrest of anyone involved in these incidents. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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