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Laser Strikes Targeting Aircraft Over Oakland Prompt Crackdown

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Authorities are scanning the skies for the suspects behind several laser strikes targeting aircraft in the Oakland area in recent days.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter was among those targeted with lasers last weekend.

"They were taking those lasers and shining them back to the helicopter," CHP Flight Officer Shaun Bouyea told KPIX 5.

Bouyea said the incident occurred Sunday night while flying over a sideshow near 42nd Avenue in East Oakland. Video shows the suspect flashed a green laser repeatedly at the helicopter.

Oakland Sideshow Laser Strike
A laser was pointed at a CHP helicopter flying over a sideshow in East Oakland on December 17, 2017. (CBS)

Lasers have also been pointed at planes landing at nearby Oakland International Airport.

"These strikes are targeting primarily small, privately owned aircraft," said Mike Zampa of the Port of Oakland.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Department said there have been seven laser strikes at planes near the airport since Monday.

Each strike is a federal crime that carries the risk of disorienting a pilot and causing an accident.

"Any pilot, anywhere in the world, does not want to have a laser strike. It can impair vision, so not a good thing," Zampa said.

The CHP is working to try to track down the suspects, doing sky surveillance throughout the night. Authorities said once the laser is spotted, it is easy to zero in.

"You can follow the beam right back to its source and then we just turn our camera over to where the laser is," Boyea said. "And then, we can get a GPS coordinate and the street as to where they are and then call in the ground units to come in and arrest them."

Authorities are preparing to keep searching every night until arrests are made.

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