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FBI reward program targets use of laser pointers to distract airplanes

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ST. LOUIS - Silence your cellphone. Save the movie commentary for later. And if you know someone who aims a laser pointer at an airplane, give us a call.

A new FBI campaign unveiled Tuesday targets the illegal use of laser pointers to distract airplanes. For the next 90 days, the bureau's 56 field offices are offering $10,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest of anyone who threatens aircraft in a laser attack.

Federal officials say the deliberate targeting of planes by people with hand-held lasers has increased significantly since 2005, when the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration began tracking such crimes.

In the Midwest, the campaign will be bolstered by public safety messages shown during movie previews at Wehrenberg Theatres, which owns theatres in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri.

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