Former California deputy charged with thefts from dead man’s home

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A former Orange County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with burglarizing the home of a dead man, prosecutors said Thursday.

Steve Hortz, a 12-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, was called to a Yorba Linda home on July 20 to check on the welfare of the owner. He discovered the man, who was in his 70s, had died of natural causes, according to a statement from the county district attorney’s office.

Home surveillance video showed Hortz breaking into the home about a week later while on duty and in uniform, authorities alleged. He left the door open and returned twice more in August in civilian clothes, authorities contend.

The stolen goods included ceiling fans and safes containing 15 guns, prosecutors alleged.

The Sheriff’s Department began investigating after the probate attorney handling the homeowner’s estate reported items were missing and provided the surveillance video, authorities said.

Hortz, 42, was arrested last month and is charged with three felony counts of second-degree burglary and two felony counts of grand theft of a firearm.

Faced with being fired, he resigned Sept. 30, according to the district attorney’s office.

Hortz could face more than four years in prison if convicted.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

“The failure of a single law enforcement officer to live up to his or her oath does not just tarnish that officer’s badge, it tarnishes the badge of the hundreds of thousands of honorable law enforcement officers who work day in and day out to protect and serve,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement.

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