Ex-cop in California accused of stealing from the homes of dead people whose cases he was called to investigate

orange county
Source: Orange County Sheriff's Department; MEGA

Sep. 27 2021, Published 11:40 a.m. ET

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A former sheriff’s deputy in California is accused of stealing from the homes of people where he called to help investigate the deaths.

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On July 20, 2020, Steve Hortz responded with two other deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to a Yorba Linda, California, home for a welfare check, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The homeowner was found dead in the residence, and the cause of death was later to be determined natural causes, according to prosecutors.

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Hortz, a 12-year veteran, was seen on home video surveillance coming back to the home several times, according to prosecutors. One time when he returned, he was in uniform and on duty. At the home, prosecutors said, Hortz stole more than $27,000 worth of guns and other items.

The sheriff’s department started an investigation after a probate attorney handling the estate said a cop may have stolen items, according to prosecutors.

Hortz was arrested in September 2020 and resigned instead of being fired, prosecutors noted.

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In late 2020, Hortz was indicted on three felony counts of second-degree burglary and two felony counts of grand theft of a firearm.

But, before Hortz could be named as a suspect in the case, officials say he committed another theft. On Aug. 19, 2020, Hortz was called to a Yorba Linda home for a dead woman.

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There, Hortz is accused of taking three credit cards and trying to use them to make thousands in unauthorized online purchases, according to prosecutors. Hortz allegedly tried to have some of the items sent to his home.

Last week, Hortz was charged with felony identity theft, one count of grand theft embezzlement and four felony counts of attempted grand theft.

Hortz now faces more than four years in prison on all charges.

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