Malaysian authorities have confiscated 1,069 bitcoin mining platforms, parked them in a police headquarters parking lot and used rollers to destroy them as part of a joint operation between law enforcement in the city of Miri and electric utility Sarawak Energy.
The crackdown came after miners stole $2 million worth electricity siphoned from Sarawak Energy transmission lines, Assistant Commissioner of Police Hakemal Hawari said.
A video of the event, published last week by Sarawak’s local news agency Daak Daily, went viral on social media.
Recall that from February to April, the Borneo authorities seized the platform six times. Police destroyed mining equipment totaling $1.26 million.
According to a court order, the police chose to destroy the mining equipment rather than sell it. Other countries, such as China, took a different route, as the seized rigs were reportedly auctioned off.
Hawari said that the electricity theft by a bitcoin miner burned down three houses in the city.
Police Chief Miri told said that no other mining operations are active or underway.
Crypto mining is an energy intensive process of creating new bitcoins. When people “mining” it means they are actually trying to solve complex math problems with highly specialized computers. The solution to this problem is to unlock the new tag and confirm the new transaction.
However, operating this machine at full power consumes a lot of energy and may damage the local power grid. While mining cryptocurrency is not illegal in Malaysia, there are strict laws regarding energy consumption. Section 37 of Malaysia’s Electricity Code faces fines of up to MYR 100,000 (USD 23,700) and up to 5 years’ imprisonment for those who disrupt power lines.
The Center for Alternative Finance in Cambridge ranks Malaysia as one of the top 10 mining destinations in the world, accounting for 3.44% of the world’s bitcoin miners.
Hawari said eight people were arrested in connection with Miri’s mining operations, and six were charged with energy theft under section 379 of the Penal Code.
The defendants were sentenced to eight months in prison and a fine of up to $ 1,900 per person.
This is just a recent example of Malaysia’s struggle to find criminals. In March, bitcoin miners stole $2.2 million in electricity from energy company Tenaga Nasional Berhad in Malaysia.
Malaysian Borneo is much less populated than Peninsula Malaysia.