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California sheriff: Deputy burglarized home after responding to death there

A Southern California sheriff’s deputy accused of stealing items from an unoccupied home days after he responded to a report of a death there is facing a burglary charge, officials said Thursday.

Steve Hortz, a 12-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, was arrested Thursday and placed on administrative leave, sheriff’s officials said in a statement.

Hortz went to the home July 20 after a report about a man in his 70s who died of natural causes, officials said. They said he returned to the home three times in late July and mid-August, once in uniform to unlock a door and twice more to remove items.

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Footage from a home security camera shows Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Hortz outside a home in Yorba Linda, Calif., on July 20, 2020.Orange County Sheriff’s Department

Security video from the home in the city of Yorba Linda, which has contracted for sheriff’s service since 2013, captured the crimes, authorities said.

“Deputy Hotrz 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,” Sheriff Don Barnes said at a news conference Thursday.

Hortz is accused of taking two safes, ceiling fans, a rifle case and other items “yet to be determined.”

Sheriff’s officials said an attorney for the deceased man’s estate contacted the department to report items missing and home security video of the deputy.

The deputies’ union, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, did not immediately respond to a request for a response Thursday night.

“The suspected criminal actions of this deputy are a violation of public trust, are inexcusable and intolerable,” Barnes said in a statement,

On Wednesday, the Office of the District Attorney in Orange County announced an unrelated case against Deputy Angelina Cortez, 41, who is accused of taking a credit card from a suspect and giving it to her son to use. She was charged with filing a false police report.

The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs did not immediately to respond to a request for comment in Cortez’s case.

Image: Dennis RomeroDennis Romero

Dennis Romero writes for NBC News and is based in Los Angeles.

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