Food stamp recipients empty Walmart shelves during system glitch
Some Walmart stores in Louisiana allowed food stamp recipients to shop despite the fact that the computer system was down and it was impossible to know how much in benefits the shopper could access.
The result - unbelievable:
Shelves in Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield, LA were reportedly cleared Saturday night, when the stores allowed purchases on EBT cards even though they were not showing limits.
The chaos that followed ultimately required intervention from local police, and left behind numerous carts filled to overflowing, apparently abandoned when the glitch-spurred shopping frenzy ended.
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirms they were called in to help the employees at Walmart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. He says Walmart was so packed, "It was worse than any black Friday" that he's ever seen.
Lynd explained the cards weren't showing limits and they called corporate Walmart, whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Walmart said they wouldn't press charges if she left the food.
Lynd says at 9 p.m., when the cards came back online and it was announced over the loud speaker, people just left their carts full of food in the aisles and left.
"Just about everything is gone, I've never seen it in that condition," said Mansfield Walmart customer Anthony Fuller.
Walmart employees could still be seen putting food from the carts away as late as Sunday afternoon. "I was just thinking, I'm so glad my mom doesn't work here [Walmart] anymore, that's the only thing I could think about, those employees working, that would have to restock all that stuff," said O.J Evans who took cell phone video of the overflowing shopping carts at the Mansfield Walmart.
Evans believes it was natural human reaction that led people to fill up their carts during the glitch, but Walmart shoppers Stan and Judy Garcia feel very differently. "That's plain theft, that's stealing that's all I got to say about it," said Garcia.
Lynd says contrary to rumors, nobody was unruly or arrested and they were mainly there to help prevent shoplifting and theft.
A dispatcher for Mansfield police also confirms officers were called in for crowd control at the Mansfield Walmart. She said the shelves were cleared out, forcing Walmart to stop selling food at 9 p.m. There were no arrests.
Carts overflowing with food left in the middle of aisles after it was announced that the EBT cards now showed limits.
A "natural human reaction?" Stealing is a conscious choice, hardly natural. Also, how did so many people get word that the store wasn't checking limits? Some sort of network must have been in use - perhaps social media via phone.
If it turns out that dozens of people went over their limit I wonder if Walmart will look at the thousands of dollars in lost sales and be so magnanimous about not pressing charges.
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