LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Four people have been arrested on suspicion of pointing lasers at Los Angeles County sheriff’s helicopters, the Sheriff’s Department announced Sunday.

“In the past seven months, helicopter pilots and Aero Bureau aircraft from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had lasers pointed at them six times while in flight,” said Captain Mike Parker of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.

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A 16-year-old boy from Los Alamitos was arrested for allegedly pointing a laser at a sheriff’s helicopter in the Pico Rivera sheriff’s station area Tuesday, he said.

Also arrested recently were a 15-year-old Pico Rivera boy for an incident in the Pico Rivera sheriff’s station area Dec. 20 and two 25-year-old men — Antonio Chavez of La Puente and Julio Pineda of Maywood — for similar crimes occurring on Dec. 11 and Sept. 22.

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Parker said pointing a laser at an aircraft is a felony punishable by up to three years in state prison and a $2,000 fine. The crime can also be a federal offense punishable by 20 years in federal prison.

“When the laser hits the Plexiglas windshield it refracts the light and fills the cockpit with laser light, causing disorientation or temporary blindness. It has caused long-term damage to some pilots,” Sgt. Morrie Zager, a helicopter pilot assigned to the sheriff’s Aero Bureau, said in a statement.

“This is a serious matter. The pilot’s disorientation could cause loss of control of the aircraft.”

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