It is embarrassing that a child’s toy, a laser-pointer, can take down million dollar airplanes and helos. Therefore, the USG created draconian punishments for who decide to deploy them.
I was able to piece together what happens by following news stories and reading law enforcement literature.
It’s the helicopters that catch the Laserists. If one avoids helos and ground witnesses, he’ll probably get away with it.
In this story, you see SWATZIs give up a rapist-hunt to find a laserman.
Let us say that some youth is shining his laser at an airplane. The pilot….…. reports this to his headquarters, who relates this to the local police.
The pilot tells them the general location. A helicopter is deployed and sent to the area. Most helos today have IR capability and can see people in the dark. If the kid didn’t beat feet, he may be caught. He probably has between 5 and 10 minutes from the time the incident is reported to get out.
The chopper tells ground units who to contain, then these close in. Depending upon the severity of the incident, there may be many units involved or few.
It is an easy arrest waiting to happen. If there are no witnesses, the kid has no laser pointer on him, and if he makes no confession, he is clear. If he dumps it, he must be sure that there are no prints on it, and that its purchase cannot be traced to him. He might succeed if he isn’t running and just acts like a normal person on a walk outdoors.
I make no moral judgement about using laser pointers. Pilots ***should*** be able to fly just using their instruments. They are trained to do this. Electrical storms, the sun, and the night sky also “blind” the pilot.