SANTA ANA, Calif. – A former Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy has been indicted by a grand jury on multiple felonies in connection with breaking into the Yorba Linda home of a man he found dead during a welfare check this summer. The 12-year veteran was captured on home surveillance video returning to the home several times, including once while on duty and wearing his Sheriff’s uniform, to steal guns and other items from the home.
Steve Hortz, 42, of San Dimas, was indicted on three felony counts of second degree burglary and two felony counts of grand theft of a firearm in connection with breaking into the deceased man’s Yorba Linda home.
Hortz is scheduled to be arraigned on the grand jury indictment on January 26, 2021. He faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months in state prison if convicted on all charges. Hortz resigned in lieu of termination effective September 30, 2020.
Hortz responded along with two other Sheriff’s Department employees to a home on Via Angelina Drive in Yorba Linda on July 20, 2020 to conduct a welfare check. The homeowner was found deceased of what was later determined to be natural causes.
Hortz is accused of returning to the home in uniform on July 27, 2020 and breaking into the home while he was on duty. He is also accused of returning to the home on two more occasions – on August 10, 2020 and August 16, 2020 – shortly before he was scheduled to work and stealing items from the home, including a total of 15 firearms.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department initiated an investigation after the probate attorney handling the deceased homeowner’s estate reported that a law enforcement officer may have stolen items from the home.
Hortz was arrested on September 10, 2020 by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
“I am so angry and beyond disappointed. This act in and of itself has done so much damage to the public perception of law enforcement and the timing could not be more detrimental,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The community must be able to trust those who wear the badge and have complete confidence that they are there to protect and serve the community rather than exploit that trust to rob the very people they are sworn to safeguard.”
Deputy District Attorney Laila Nikaien of Special Prosecutions is prosecuting this case.