Sarasota, Florida -- According to the FBI, the problem has gotten so bad over the last decade or so there has been an over 1,000 percent increase of people deliberately targeting aircrafts with laser pointers.
"It's 10 times more intense than a flash bulb going off into your eyes if you're in a dark room," says Deputy David Bouffard, a pilot with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has been flying since 2001 and has been a laser target 15 times -- twice recently on back-to-back nights.
"Both times I was trying to do a police function searching for suspects, that kind of thing, on one of them specifically we had to break off."
Now, the FBI is launching a national strategy trying to bring awareness to the public of the dangers of pointing lasers at any aircraft. It's a federal offense with up to five years in prison.
"We do not want to prosecute these offenses, we want the actions to stop. We're hopeful that educating the public, the public -- learning what a hazard this is to aircraft -- will cease doing this," says U.S. Attorney Lee Bently.
"When you're on a call or circling an area or coming in to land, and all of a sudden the cockpit gets lit up with a bright green light, you can't see anything, you can't see your instruments -- you're basically flash blinded for a few seconds," explains Bouffard.
Bouffard feels being targeted with a laser while flying an aircraft is plain dangerous.
"All it has to do is hit anything inside that aircraft and it's going to reflect and refract off the different Plexiglas we've got in there and keep you from seeing what you need to see."
The FBI is launching a national strategy trying to bring awareness to the public of the dangers of pointing lasers at any aircraft. WTSP