Steve Hortz has been in the Orange County Sheriff's Department for 12 years. But his career may be about to end after he was captured by surveillance cameras of a home committing acts of burglary. What is even weirder is the fact that this house belonged to a man who died recently and it was Hortz himself who was the first law-enforcement official to arrive on the scene.
The house belonged to a septuagenarian who was reported dead to the authorities on July 20. Deputy Hortz arrived at the scene and inspected the area. Since the deceased person had died of natural causes, there wasn't any need for further investigation. However, the deputy made another visit to the property, located in the Yorba Linda suburb of Orange County, on July 27.
Acts of burglary
Dressed in his uniform, Hortz broke into the house and unlocked it. Then, he made two more visits to the residence, on August 10 and 16, this time not in uniform but civilian clothes. It is believed that during these last two visits, he took away some articles from the building. The main stolen goods were two safes, a rifle case, clothes, apart from other goods.
The authorities were notified of the deputy's actions by the attorney of this property's owners on September 9. The surveillance video which was captured by cameras that were still running on the property was also presented. In response, the officer was put on administrative leave and an investigation was launched.
With solid evidence in hand, authorities arrested Hortz and have placed him in Santa Ana Jail. He has been charged with three counts of felony and one of misdemeanour. The bail bond's value has been set at $20,000.
"Deputy Hortz returned to that residence in the early morning hours, gained entrance to the residence through the unlocked door, and was seen on recordings removing items from the residence," the Sherriff of Orange County, Don Barnes informed mediapersons at a press conference.
The Sherriff's office has also decided to investigate other cases where Hortz answered a call to law-enforcement agencies. It is possible that this act may only be the tip of the iceberg as far as Hortz's illegal acts are concerned. As of now, the suspended deputy is likely to face charges of burglary.
"The suspected criminal actions of this deputy are a violation of public trust. This deputy will be held accountable through a swift and thorough process including a full criminal and internal administrative investigation," Sherriff Barnes said.