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FBI offers rewards to stop laser attacks on airplanes

The FBI is offering $10,000 rewards to try to deter people from pointing lasers at airplanes, a problem that has increased dramatically across the county.

The rewards follow a pilot program launched at 12 FBI offices in February. Those offices saw a 19 percent decrease in the number of cases reported.

Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime.

FBI to crack down on lasers shined at airplanes 01:51

Since the FBI began tracking laser strikes in 2005, there has been a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers.

According to FAA data, the number of laser strikes across the country rose from 384 in 2006 to 3,960 last year. The FAA can impose a fine of up to $11,000.

"The FBI hopes to build off the success of the initial launch in February and not only reduce the threat but continue to generate public awareness about the dire consequences of lasing and the understanding that it is a violation of federal law," said Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the FBI's Kansas City Division.

In the Kansas City Division, which covers Kansas and western Missouri, 49 laser strikes were reported in 2012, 51 in 2013.

The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Tammy Dickinson, said that violators would not be let off with a warning, but would be arrested and prosecuted.

"Lasing is a public safety hazard that puts pilots and their passengers at risk," she said.

The FBI is working with the FAA and the Air Line Pilots Association International. The rewards are for information leading to the arrest of anyone who targets an airplane with a laser.

Besides the rewards, the national campaign will include billboard messages, public service announcements on radio and on social media.

More information can be found on the FBI website.

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