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posted by Woods on Thursday June 05 2014, @03:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-could-put-an-eye-out-with-that-thing dept.

The FBI has announced that they are expanding their campaign nationwide aimed at deterring people from pointing lasers at aircraft-by rewarding those who provide information about individuals who engage in this dangerous crime and aggressively prosecuting the perpetrators. A key part of the publicity campaign is reward money. The FBI will offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. "We want to encourage people to come forward when they see someone committing this crime, which could have terrible consequences for pilots and their passengers," says George Johnson.

Since the FBI and the FAA began tracking laser strikes in 2005, there has been more than a 1,100 percent increase in the number of incidents with these devices, which can be purchased in stores or online for as little as a few dollars. Last year, 3,960 laser strikes against aircraft were reported. It is estimated that thousands of attacks go unreported every year. In March a 26-year-old California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter and a hospital emergency transport helicopter. The man and his girlfriend were using a device that was 13 times more powerful than the permissible power emission level for handheld lasers. The girlfriend was also convicted and recently sentenced to a two-year prison term.

 
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hoochiecoochieman on Thursday June 05 2014, @03:57PM

    by hoochiecoochieman (4158) on Thursday June 05 2014, @03:57PM (#51759)

    My faith in mankind goes down a little when I hear about people doing this kind of stuff for fun. I mean, I can understand (but not approve of) someone who is evil for personal gain, but being evil for no reason, just out of stupidity? These people should be publicly bitch-slapped to death.

    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:41PM

      by sjames (2882) on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:41PM (#51812) Journal

      I imagine that most people who shine a laser pointer at an airplane don't realize it can be a problem. To them, a laser pointer is a magic flashlight that puts a little dot of light on something. A few PSAs would probably be more effective and less expensive, but then they don't get to yell "Rspect my authoriti!".

      After the PSAs, they should consider enforcement for that small group of people who either can't learn or actually want to cause a problem.

      • (Score: 2) by hoochiecoochieman on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:50PM

        by hoochiecoochieman (4158) on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:50PM (#51813)

        A few PSAs would probably be more effective and less expensive

        You mean, check their prostates? I think that's a really good deterrent!

        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:01PM

          by sjames (2882) on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:01PM (#51818) Journal

          I was thinking Public Service Announcement. The prostate exam should be reserved for the determined idiots (but will be of limited effectiveness for female offenders).

        • (Score: 1) by e_armadillo on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:20PM

          by e_armadillo (3695) on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:20PM (#51824)

          You mean, check their prostates? I think that's a really good deterrent!

          Wouldn't this be an incentive for some?

          --
          "How are we gonna get out of here?" ... "We'll dig our way out!" ... "No, no, dig UP stupid!"
      • (Score: 1) by Big Frank on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:36PM

        by Big Frank (2133) on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:36PM (#51832)

        How I imagine these incidents happen (I have never done this, don't even own a laser pointer). Average Joe gets a new laser pointer, Shines it on the opposite wall and says "Wow, look at the laser beam power output and coherence!". Immediately the hunt for far away targets starts. Shines it out the window. Building across the street? No problem. Building at end of block? No problem. Farthest away building in line of site? Hard to hold it steady enough to aim, but after a couple minutes of trying manages to hold it on the building and can still see it! Wow, need something even farther away. Airplane in sky - Hot damn, let's give it a try!!!!! Wow, it's so far away, doesn't know if laser is even hitting it our not. After 5 minutes of standing in middle of street trying, police show up and tackle him to the ground.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:58PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:58PM (#51845) Journal

          Actually, there is a body of evidence that suggests that at least SOME people believe their dinky little laser can't reach a plane.

          This is because the beam usually seems to disappear at the Planetary Boundary Layer [wikipedia.org]. Clean air above a certain relatively small altitude (400-ish meters) does not reflect laser light as well as does the lower air.

          Some people seeing their beam fizzle out after a couple hundred meters think they can't possibly interfere with an airplane. (Which leaves you wondering why they would try to light up an aircraft).

          This page explains it,: http://www.laserpointersafety.com/page52/aviationfacts/whybeamsseemtoend.html [laserpointersafety.com]

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 2) by WillAdams on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:02PM

    by WillAdams (1424) on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:02PM (#51762)

    Could one monetize this be creating a laser detection / point-of-origin finding system?

    How much would it cost to build a detection system near an airport?

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by pert.boioioing on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:14PM

      by pert.boioioing (1117) on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:14PM (#51770)

      Something like this, perhaps? [youtube.com] Not sure how practical this would be with commercial airplanes flying at altitude, but the video is still interesting.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:41PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:41PM (#51811) Journal

        That incident took a police helicopter, pilot and observer, several squad cars, and a dispatcher. Probably not cost effective.

        If the FBI offered 10K to any police force that arrested a laser jocky, you could pay for several of these operations per week. (Almost all police choppers are equipped with FLIR already.)

        Getting a citizen to report some gang banger with a laser is going to be a tough sell, as his buddies will surly seek revenge.

        Unfortunately, it will probably take a crashed airliner for this stupidity to stop. That has never happened (Yet)

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:57PM

          by bob_super (1357) on Thursday June 05 2014, @05:57PM (#51816)

          Are you implying that CNN hasn't reported yet how MH370 disappeared from being melted by a laser pointer?

          • (Score: 1) by Hawkwind on Thursday June 05 2014, @09:41PM

            by Hawkwind (3531) on Thursday June 05 2014, @09:41PM (#51920)

            I believe there are a couple of Aussies who saw this happen but they admit it might've been a meteorite. They're placing the odds of it being MH370 at about 20%.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:17PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:17PM (#51771)

      To make it really profitable, you have to find some way of duping people into shining laser pointers at aircraft, so that you can then collect $10k each for reporting them.

      This makes me with I had a super-power: mind control. I could have a lot of fun with this. I'd get a video camera, and use my mind-control power to make the executives of Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, Best Buy, GoDaddy, Microsoft, Apple, and GM shine laser pointers at aircraft while I record them for evidence. I could do the same with many politicians, including my state governor, infamous for BridgeGate. Then I could not only profit handsomely, but society would be bettered by having these people imprisoned.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07 2014, @03:13AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07 2014, @03:13AM (#52506)

        Ooh! Sony and Comcast! PLEASE don't forget them!

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:48PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:48PM (#51839)

      Stick a couple corner cubes on the planes, so the laserer lases himself.

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Dunbal on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:08PM

    by Dunbal (3515) on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:08PM (#51765)

    So when is it going to start to dawn on people that after 3900+ "incidents" and absolutely zero fatalities, crashes or even pilots blinded by lasers, that maybe the "threat" is a little overblown. Yeah ok don't be a jerk and point a laser pointer at a plane. But screaming for the death penalty because that irresponsible fool "might have killed everyone on board the plane and also everyone on the ground" is a little exaggerated too.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Angry Jesus on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:14PM

      by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:14PM (#51769)

      Shutup! You are going to ruin the War on Green Lasers!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:34PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05 2014, @04:34PM (#51783)

      Well to be fair to the FBI, 25 mW green lasers are getting cheaper. I don't see the group of criminal delinquents intersecting with the people that buy ~$300 ~1W lasers from Wicked Lasers anytime soon though. So little chance of eye damage, and forget crashing a plane. If Alibaba/whatever put out a cheap 500mW-1W laser we'd probably see bipartisan federal regulation.

    • (Score: 1) by dime on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:54PM

      by dime (1163) on Thursday June 05 2014, @06:54PM (#51842)

      It is overblown, but consider the circumstances. Imagine you're carrying a box while walking across a tightrope.
      The box itself is worth only a few billion dollars... but inside of it are the lives of 200 men, women, and children.
      Does some fucktard get to point a laser into your eye while you're trying to make it safely across?

      And if you yelled, "Hey, STOP! What you're doing is really dangerous for no reason what so ever.
      You're getting no benefit from this and at the same time potentially endangering the lives of a lot of people."

      Meanwhile, the guy responds "Lasers gonna lase!" and keeps going

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 05 2014, @07:21PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 05 2014, @07:21PM (#51856) Journal

        Flying an airplane on final approach is no where near as precarious as a tightrope.

        At the first hint of a laser the pilot dons laser goggles, and makes an instrument landing.

        In Worst Case FAA flight simulator studies with a simulated laser placed at the end of the runway, 25% of test pilots opted to abort the landing and go around.

        In real life, go-arounds for lasers seldom ever happen, and damage to pilots vision is usually fleeting [dtic.mil], and the pilot continues to land the plane.

        Most new legislation on laser use against planes is happening at the state level, not the federal level.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Oligonicella on Thursday June 05 2014, @07:07PM

      by Oligonicella (4169) on Thursday June 05 2014, @07:07PM (#51850)

      No, it won't permanently blind a pilot. It can however, cause flash blindness [wikipedia.org].

      • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Friday June 06 2014, @04:29AM

        by Dunbal (3515) on Friday June 06 2014, @04:29AM (#52068)

        "Can" but probably won't, just like bringing the pilot hot coffee CAN result in 2nd degree burns but probably won't. In fact, show me a case where this has happened.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday June 06 2014, @02:33AM

      by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 06 2014, @02:33AM (#52020) Journal

      To me this smacks of more, "Let's outlaw everything so everyone is guilty of something." The Powers-That-Be are vastly overreaching their authority and no one has brushed them back in a very long time, so they are reaching even further, quicker. While everyone is still reeling from the audacity and mendacity of those they had believed had been elected by them, worked for them, and had their interests in mind, the politicians and titans of industry take it as a sign that they don't even have to pretend to be sneaky when stealing from the cookie jar and have ripped the lid off the sucker, planted both feet in the middle of the kitchen and are pouring the cookies into their mouths while wildly cackling.

      This is the rush toward the end, guys. Lasers pointed at aircraft have never killed anyone. They've never blinded anyone. They've never even made anyone late. People cutting off other people in traffic is far more dangerous, but you don't hear about the FBI putting a $10K bounty on the head of anyone who does that on the interstate, do you? But it sure does add to the smokescreen the authorities are throwing up.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Thursday June 05 2014, @08:26PM

    by morgauxo (2082) on Thursday June 05 2014, @08:26PM (#51887)

    It's been a while since we started hearing about this problem on the news and laws started getting passed. So, what I wonder is how common was this before airport officials/pilots/authorities started talking about it? Even if some 'prankster' did think to do it now and then if the plane didn't crash and it never made the news how many times would they repeat? They would assume that nothing happened! There would be no satisfaction, no reason to try it again.

    I think all this publicity has got to also be the cause of most of the problem. How about a $10,000 reward for identifying the culpurits who publicized it?

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Friday June 06 2014, @12:26AM

    by kaszz (4211) on Friday June 06 2014, @12:26AM (#51984) Journal

    For this kind of antisocial behaviour the FBI can practice rough arrests if they want. Same goes for pointing these things into people, cars, living quarters etc.

    Suggestion: Only sell these things as kits. Perhaps only as parts. That should keep out the lower end of the gene pool.

    Perhaps one could make a profit from a laser localization system..