California deputy Steve Hortz arrested on suspicion of breaking into dead man's home, making away with property
It all began when he responded to a call for service on July 20, 2020, at the Yorba Linda residence about a man in his 70s who had passed away due to apparent natural causes
SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA: Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Hortz was arrested and booked on Thursday, September 10, on suspicion of burglary. According to a press release from OC Sheriff's Department, Hortz, a 12-year veteran of the department, broke into an unoccupied home on three separate occasions and made away with a couple of possessions.
It all began when he responded to a call for service on July 20, 2020, at the Yorba Linda residence about a man in his 70s who had passed away due to apparent natural causes. On Wednesday, September 9, an attorney representing the family estate contacted the department to report missing items from the residence. Along with it, he provided a surveillance video that captured Hortz entering the resident, unauthorized, on three occasions and exiting with property from the house.
The press release stated that Hortz returned to the residence for the first time on July 27. He was still in uniform during this unauthorized visit wherein he entered from the rear end of the house and left shortly after. Whether he stole anything during this visit is yet to be determined. He then returned the next month on two days: August 10 and 16, this time in civilian clothing. During these visits, he removed items, including weapon safes, ceiling fans and cases containing unknown objects, according to the press release.
The department launched an immediate investigation once the matter was reported by the attorney. Hortz was taken into custody on the morning of Thursday, September 10, 2020, and booked into the Santa Ana Jail on suspicion of burglary. The department has put him on administrative leave and is also trying to determine if similar unreported instances have occurred in the past by investigating prior calls handled by Hortz. "The suspected criminal actions of this deputy are a violation of public trust, are inexcusable and intolerable," said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes in a statement. "This deputy will be held accountable through a swift and thorough process including a full criminal and internal administrative investigation."
"These actions undermine the good work done every day by the men and women of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. We have proudly served the community of Yorba Linda since 2013. As your Sheriff, I want you to know that these criminal actions by a member of my staff will not be tolerated and are not indicative of the service we provide to Yorba Linda or any other contract city." "I will hold accountable deputies who do not honor the oath they swore to uphold. It is imperative that we do everything in our power to ensure that the men and women who have the privilege to wear the badge humbly recognize the responsibility entrusted to them as a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department," concluded the Sheriff's statement.