SANTA ANA, Calif. – A former Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy indicted by a grand jury on multiple felonies for breaking into the home of a deceased man to steal guns and other items is facing new charges for stealing credit cards of a woman whom the deputy also found dead in her Yorba Linda home. He is accused of attempting to use the stolen credit cards to make purchases from an automotive parts store and QVC network and have some of the purchases delivered to his own home.
On July 20, 2020, Steve Hortz, 42, of San Dimas, responded along with two other Sheriff’s Department employees to a home on Via Angelina Drive in Yorba Linda to conduct a welfare check. The homeowner was found deceased of what was later determined to be natural causes.
The 12-year veteran was captured on home surveillance video returning to the deceased man’s home several times, including once while on duty and wearing his Sheriff’s uniform, to steal more than $27,000 in guns and other items from the home.
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 and resigned in lieu of termination effective September 30, 2020.
Hortz was indicted in December 2020 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.
On August 19, 2020, before Hortz had been identified as the suspect in the other thefts, Hortz was called to a Yorba Linda home of a deceased woman. He is accused of taking three credit cards from the home and attempting to use the cards to make thousands of dollars of unauthorized online purchases and have them sent in some cases to his own home address. The majority of the charges were declined.
Today, Hortz was charged with one felony count of identity theft, one felony count of grand theft embezzlement, and four felony counts of attempted grand theft. He faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months in state prison if convicted of all those charges.
“This individual was called to assist grieving families in a time of need and instead he betrayed their trust,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “This behavior is unworthy of someone who wears the badge and thankfully as a result of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigation, he is no longer in a position where he can use his uniform and badge to victimize the very people he was sworn to protect.”
Deputy District Attorney Avery Harrison of Special Prosecutions is prosecuting this case.