Former California cop accused of stealing from another dead person

A former Orange County sheriff’s deputy indicted for burglarizing the house of a dead man in Yorba Linda is facing new charges of stealing credit cards from a woman who had died in that city as well.

Former Deputy Steven Hortz, 42, allegedly used the stolen cards to make purchases from an automotive parts store and the QVC television network, having some of the items delivered to his own home in San Dimas, authorities said Friday. The majority of the charges were declined.

Hortz previously was charged with stealing guns, ceiling fans and other items from a home to which he was dispatched on a welfare check.

If convicted on all charges, Hortz faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months in state prison.

“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.”

Sheriff Don Barnes added, “Like many members of the public, I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable actions of Mr. Hortz and his failure to uphold his responsibilities while employed as a peace officer. Mr. Hortz has been separated from the Department, and will be held accountable for violating the public’s trust through the criminal justice process.”

An investigation showed that Hortz was sent to a residence where the man died on July 20, 2020. The 12-year sheriff’s veteran returned and broke into the unoccupied home on July 27 in uniform and is suspected of returning on Aug. 10 and Aug. 16 to steal gun safes, clothing and other items.
An attorney representing the victim’s estate later contacted the Sheriff’s Department to report the missing items, and provide surveillance footage of the break-ins, officials said. Hortz was arrested the following day, placed on paid administrative leave and charged with theft.

On Friday, Hortz additionally was charged with one felony count of identity theft, one felony count of grand theft embezzlement, and four felony counts of attempted grand theft while on duty in connection with the credit card theft.