Ex-OC deputy charged after allegedly stealing dead woman's credit cards to buy auto parts

KABC logo
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Ex-OC sheriff's deputy allegedly stole dead woman's credit cards
A former Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy has been charged with allegedly stealing a dead woman's credit cards.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A former Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy, who was previously indicted on multiple felony charges, has been charged with allegedly stealing a dead woman's credit cards and attempting to use them to purchase thousands of dollars worth of auto parts, prosecutors said Friday.

Steve Hortz, of San Dimas, responded on Aug. 19, 2020, to the woman's Yorba Linda home for a welfare check and found her deceased inside, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

While at the home, Hortz allegedly stole three credit cards and later used them to make thousands of dollars worth of unauthorized online purchases, though most of the purchases were declined, the DA's office said in a statement.

Hortz, who was arrested last September on unrelated charges, was charged Friday with four felony counts of attempted grand theft and one felony count each of identity theft and grand theft embezzlement, the news release said. He faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months in state prison if convicted of all charges.

Hortz, 42, was previously indicted on several charges stemming from a similar incident, in which he and two other Orange County sheriff's deputies responded on July 20, 2020, to a home on Via Angelina Drive in Yorba Linda to conduct a separate welfare check.

An Orange County sheriff's deputy has been arrested on allegations he burglarized the home of a man who had recently died.

The man who owned the home was found dead inside from what was later determined to be natural causes.

Following the welfare check, Hortz was recorded by surveillance cameras allegedly returning to the man's house several times, including once while on duty, to steal $27,000 worth of guns and other items, prosecutors said.

The sheriff's department began an investigation after the probate attorney handling the man'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.

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 man's Yorba Linda home.

"This individual was called to assist grieving families in a time of need and instead he betrayed their trust," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a 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."

City News Service contributed to this report.