Why isn’t this considered theft?

From MSN Money:

Food stamp glitch leads to Wal-Mart stampede
Shoppers swarm stores after a computer hiccup gives benefit cards unlimited purchasing power.

Wal-Mart stores in Springhill and Mansfield, La., saw a stampede and a shelf-clearing rush Saturday after a computer glitch for food stamp recipients led to benefit cards allowing unlimited purchases.

Police were called as entire shelves were being cleared out, until the glitch was fixed and low-income residents using the cards were no longer allowed to make purchases.

From news station KSLA:

“Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirms they were called in to help the employees at Wal-Mart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. He says Wal-Mart 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 Wal-Mart, 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 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Wal-Mart said they wouldn’t press charges if she left the food.

More at the link.

If you continue, you’ll read that once it was announced over the store loudspeaker that the system was running properly again, a bunch of shoppers simply left their full carts and walked out. And that means that they knew that they were stealing from the government, and only stopped stealing when they knew that they couldn’t steal any more.

All of this stuff is computerized, of course, so the government can easily tell who outspent their EBT cards; it would be easy enough to prosecute them for theft. The Obama Administration won’t, of course, so the next easiest step would simply be to deduct the overcharges from their Food Stamps EBT cards next month, and the month after that, and the month after that, until the overages are made up, and if they happen to go hungry during that time, well too fornicating bad.

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