The Bitcoin mining equipment was destroyed in Miri, Sarawak. The owners of the machines illegally tapped into the grid.
Miri cops used a steamroller to demolish 1,069 bitcoin servers worth US$1.3 million (RM5.4 million). Unbeknownst to them, another 44 cryptocurrency mining machines valued at US$53,200 (RM225,000) discovered in an abandoned plantation near town last month are likely to suffer the same fate as the ones discovered in the abandoned building.
Using stolen electricity to mine bitcoin is illegal. The shattered PCs were seized during raids conducted by Miri police and Sarawak Energy Bhd between February and April of this year.
When a vacant shophouse in Miri caught fire last February, authorities discovered charred remains of cryptocurrency mining servers among the debris. It is not the first time that authorities have come across such operations.
Malaysia’s problem is expected to worsen in the near future as a result of Chinese crackdowns on Bitcoin miners.
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Malaysia’s largest electricity utility, has reported a 300 percent increase in the number of cases of electricity theft involving bitcoin mining, from 610 in 2018 to 2,465 in 2020. The TNB had already identified 1,359 cases for 2021 as of June of this year.
TNB conducted 92 joint raids with the Energy Commission (EC), the Royal Malaysian Police, and local councils from January to June.
Stealing electricity is a criminal offence punishable by up to RM100,000 and up to ten years in prison under the Electricity Supply Act 1990. Sections 379 and 427 of the Penal Code also allow for the filing of theft and malicious mischief charges against lawbreakers.
However, the accident has resulted in significant losses. Johor TNB expects to lose RM90 million from bitcoin mining by 2020. A Melaka bitcoin mining syndicate has lost RM9 million since February 2019. TNB had filed civil lawsuits against 268 locations that had engaged in power theft by the end of July 2021, and 142 people had been arrested as a result.
China’s loss is Malysia’s gain
Bitcoin’s price has risen dramatically since April 2020, from US$6,000 to US$63,000, with a high of US$63,000 in December 2020. Since then, the price has dropped to $35,000 due to a crackdown by Chinese authorities on cryptocurrency miners.
This is because, according to some estimates, China was the world’s most active mining country, accounting for 65 percent of Bitcoin hash rate production (the hash rate is a measure of how much work is being done to generate Bitcoin.