Helicopter searching for missing woman is targeted in 'laser attack'
A police helicopter, looking for a high risk missing person, had its search disrupted by a "laser attack", say police.
Emergency services were contacted on Monday at around 4.15pm after a 73-year old woman, who suffers from dementia, went missing from her Penwortham care home.
Officers launched a search of the area using patrols and the helicopter, but were dismayed when an unknown person persistently pointed a green laser at the helicopter.
A spokesman for NPAS Barton said in a post to Twitter: "We attended the Preston area to help with search for elderly missing person with dementia.
"The crew who were trying to do their job looking for someone who needs our help and were subjected to persistent green laser attack.
"Thanks to Preston Police for assisting us and detaining the offender."
Police on the ground, who helped to locate and stop the and attack, say the missing woman was later spotted by a member of the public in the area.
A force spokesman said: "We conducted a search for a high risk missing female in the Penwortham area.
"The helicopter was called out and a missing person appeal was put out on social media.
"We had several reports from members of the public as a result of this. One person called in to say she had been seen in the vicinity of New Hall Lane.
"She was found at around 7.15pm safe and well."
Tough new laws launched in December 2017 mean that people who target transport operators with laser devices could be jailed for up to five years.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Lasers, Commander Simon Bray said at the time: "Recklessly shining a laser at an aircraft or another moving vehicle is deeply irresponsible and dangerous.
"By causing a distraction or, in some cases, short or long-term eye damage, laser attacks can lead to catastrophic incidents."
In 2016, the Civil Aviation Authority received reports of 1,258 laser incidents across the country.