LASER-pen menaces are putting lives at risk and will be caught, senior police officers warned today.

Strathclyde Police issued the strong warning after an incident in Lanarkshire involving the force's helicopter.

Police say anyone considering flashing a laser pen in the direction of any aircraft faces being locked up.

Last month a 16-year-old boy was reported to the procurator fiscal for allegedly shining a laser light at the force helicopter in Cambuslang.

The crew was responding to a bookies' robbery in Main Street on October 31, but the helicopter was stood down. Investigations into the robbery continue.

Communities Inspector Jim Gillespie, based at Rutherglen police station, said anyone shining a laser pen at aircraft should know the consequences.

"Shining a laser at a force helicopter or other aircraft has the potential to bring that aircraft down.

"Lives are being put at risk – not just those of the crews, but also those in communities around Glasgow.

"The force helicopter can be deployed in densely populated, urban areas and with a laser-pen incident there is a risk to people living in these areas.

"There are potentially serious consequences of such foolish acts."

Laser pens can be bought for just a few pounds and are readily available online and in some hardware stores.

They have genuine uses, such as as as a teaching aid, but some are misused.

Inspector Gillespie emphasised that anyone involved in such acts will be caught.

He added: "Some people think it is something they will get away with. We have the means to track people down.

"They risk being caught by the police for what is a cheap thrill with life-threatening consequences.

"People might think this is a harmless stunt but it could lead to someone being seriously injured or worse."

In 2010 an 18-year-old man was charged after a police helicopter was targeted by a laser beam during the Pope's visit to Glasgow.

The helicopter was surveying crowds leaving Bellahouston Park after the Pope's Mass.

A man was jailed for four months for shining a laser pen at a Tornado jet trying to land at RAF Leuchars in Fife.