Laser Strikes a Growing Problem in San Diego: FAA

San Diego law enforcement is searching for the person who shined a green laser at an airplane headed for Lindbergh Field earlier this week. According to officials, stunts like this are a growing problem.

This latest incident comes as the FBI and FAA release alarming statistics about laser strikes reported in San Diego.

The FAA tells NBC 7 San Diego's number of reported lasing incidents is not only higher than in most cities – it is on the rise. In fact, the number of lasing incidents is nearly 40 percent higher in just three years.

Through training videos, the FAA attempts to educate pilots and the public about so-called “lasing.”

It is a dangerous distraction especially at takeoff and landing.

FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said San Diego is a hot bed of such criminal activity because more people spend their time outside, and San Diego's flight path is over a dense population.

FBI statistics indicate that by August 2015, a total of 92 laser strikes were reported. There were 78 reports in all of 2014, and 61 in 2013.

“The price [of lasers] has come down. Availability has gone up. The power of these devices has gone up tremendously,” Gregor said.

Pilots flying as high as 20,000-feet have reported lasing.

Pointing a laser at a commercial airliner is a federal offense, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $11,000.

In June 2014, the FBI increased the reward to $10,000 for information leading to arrests of those responsible for such incidents.

While the number of lasing reports are increasing, the FAA says so are the number of arrests.

“Some police agencies are getting quite sophisticated in their apprehension techniques. Also, the FBI has formed laser task forces in various parts of the country,” Gregor said.

FAA research indicates only a few individuals are responsible for the large number of laser strikes. Making information leading to even one arrest that much more valuable.

The plane reporting a laser strike in San Diego Thursday night was SkyWest flight 6639 and was hit eight miles from Lindbergh Field around 6 p.m.

The flight landed at the Commuter Terminal with no further problems, and no injuries were reported.

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