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Actor's slaying linked to persistent ca8k8 online casinor-theft issue in US

流动的大运河有多美? | 8k8 online casino | Updated: 2024-07-15 18:52:41

File photo of Johnny Wactor. [Photo/VCG]

The tragic slaying of an actor in Los Angeles involved another pervasive criminal activity in the United States — the theft of automobile catalytic converters.

Johnny Wactor, 37, an actor who formerly appeared on the long-running American soap opera General Hospital, was shot and killed when he interrupted thieves stealing his car's catalytic converter, his family said Sunday.

The shooting occurred after 3 am Saturday, when the victim approached three men in downtown LA, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

His mother, Scarlett Wactor, told ABC 7 that her son had left work at a rooftop bar with a co-worker when he saw someone at his car and thought it was being towed. Media reports said that the actor, who was walking out with the female co-worker, stood in front of her to protect her.

A mask-wearing suspect opened fire, Wactor's mother said. Three suspects drove away from the scene, police said. The actor was rushed to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. There have been no arrests yet.

Catalytic converters, which control auto-exhaust emissions, are usually located underneath a vehicle. They include precious metals such as rhodium, palladium and platinum. Car thieves look to cash in on the stolen parts at auto salvage yards or parts suppliers, where they can be melted down, and the metals extracted.

The illicit-market price for catalytic converters can be more than $1,000 each, depending on the type of vehicle and what state it is from, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which says the parts can be stolen in under a minute.

The devices often lack unique identifying numbers, which makes then hard to trace to the actual owner.

In California, converter thefts soared during the pandemic, which led to state laws that make it illegal for recyclers to buy the parts from anyone other than the legal owner or a licensed dealer, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In November 2022, the DOJ conducted a nationwide takedown of leaders and associates of a national network for their alleged roles in conspiracies involving stolen catalytic converters sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions of dollars.

The arrests, searches and seizures occurred in California, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming.

Twenty-one people in five states were arrested and/or charged.

"With California's higher emission standards, our community has become a hot bed for catalytic converter theft," said US Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California, in a DOJ statement. "Last year (2021) approximately 1,600 catalytic converters were reportedly stolen in California each month, and California accounts for 37 percent of all catalytic converter theft claims nationwide."

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, "more than 2,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the past year (2022)", said US Attorney Clint Johnson for the Northern District of Oklahoma. "Organized criminal activity, including the large-scale theft of catalytic converters, is costly to victims and too often places citizens and law enforcement in danger."

The thefts of the devices, however, did decline significantly in 2023, as the price of the metals in the converters tumbled, with rhodium falling to one-sixth of its peak in 2021, USA Today reported. Only one state, New Jersey, reported an increase — 25 percent.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2023, 21 states introduced bills targeting the converter thefts, with 19 others introducing similar legislation, NBC News reported.

In Ohio, House Bill 328 would make a catalytic converter a special purpose article, holding scrap metal dealers to more requirements, reported WKYC-TV, an NBC affiliate in Cleveland. It also would increase penalties for stolen catalytic converters and create a catalytic converter theft task force.

"If a person shows up and says, 'I've got a catalytic converter', what our bill would say is you have to prove to us where you got it," said state Representative Bill Roemer. "Do you have a repair bill from a muffler shop? Do you have an auto title or something like that? So you have to have proof that you legally own that catalytic converter," the station reported.

Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon has called the theft of catalytic convertors a "plague" being fought locally on a number of fronts, reported the Staten Island Advance.

Thefts of catalytic converters jumped 670 percent on the New York City borough, the newspaper reported.

David Shaul, the agent for the slain actor, who also had a role in the drama Siberia, said he was "a real moral example to everyone who knew him".

"In the highs and lows of a challenging profession he always kept his chin up and kept striving for the best he could be," Shaul said in a statement Sunday. "Our time with Johnny was a privilege we would wish on everyone. He would literally give you the shirt off his back."

On social media, actress Tonja Walker wrote on X: "I feel furious. Crime is so bad in LA, that no police were there to prevent or catch these murderers! A horrible tragedy for a catalytic converter!"

Allen Farmer posted on X: "The man was killed by thieves trying to steal the catalytic converter off of his vehicle. How do people have so little regard for human life?"

Agencies contributed to this story.

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