Previously indicted ex-O.C. deputy charged with stealing credit cards from dead woman’s Yorba Linda home

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Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Hortz appears in a booking photo released by the agency on Sept. 10, 2020. He was arrested that day on suspicion of burglarizing a Yorba Linda home.

Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Hortz appears in a booking photo released by the agency on Sept. 10, 2020. He was arrested that day on suspicion of burglarizing a Yorba Linda home.

A former Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy who was previously indicted by a grand jury for stealing guns and other items from a dead man’s home is now facing new charges for stealing credit cards from the Yorba Linda residence of a deceased woman.

On Aug. 19, 2020, Steven Hortz, a 12-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, was called out to the Yorba Linda home, where he allegedly took three credit cards. He is accused of attempting to use the cards to make thousands of dollars of unauthorized online purchases, the O.C. District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Friday.

He allegedly attempted to use the stolen credit cards to make purchases from an automotive parts store and QVC television network, and to have some of the purchases delivered to his own home address.

The majority of the charges were declined, according to the release.

Hortz, a 42-year-old resident of San Dimas, was charged Friday with one felony count of identity theft, one felony count of grand theft embezzlement and four felony counts of attempted grand theft, the DA’s office said.

He faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months in state prison if convicted as charged.

“This individual was called to assist grieving families in a time of need and instead he betrayed their trust,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a writtens statement. “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.”

Hortz was indicted in a similar case in December 2020 on three felony counts of second-degree burglary and two felony counts of grand theft of a firearm for allegedly breaking into a deceased man’s Yorba Linda home.

On July 20, 2020, Hortz responded with two other Sheriff’s Department employees to that man’s home on Via Angelina Drive to conduct a welfare check. The homeowner was found dead of what was later determined to be natural causes, officials said.

Hortz was captured on surveillance video returning to the 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, including ceiling fans and weapons safes, the DA’s office said.

The 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 Sept. 10, 2020, and resigned from the department in lieu of termination effective Sept. 30, 2020.

Following his arrest, sheriff’s officials said they were investigating whether the veteran deputy committed similar thefts and crimes while on duty.

“I will do everything we can to make sure he does not return to a uniform in this organization or anywhere else for that matter,” Sheriff Don Barnes told reporters at the time. “He’s embarrassed this profession, he’s embarrassed this organization, and he’s embarrassed the almost 4,000 members who do good work everyday.”

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