Cryptocurrency mining centre using illegal electricity connections catches fire

The cryptocurrency mining centre at 9th Mile, Kuching, where the fire took place.

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KUCHING, Aug 18: A cryptocurrency mining centre operating among shoplots at 9th Mile here caught fire recently due to electricity theft-related wire tampering which overloaded the electrical system.

According to a media release today, Sarawak Energy said an emergency shutdown was executed immediately by its team upon being alerted by firefighters so that the fire could be extinguished safely.

The team later found 30 charred cryptocurrency mining servers at the premises but it believed that the actual number of servers could be higher due to the severity of the fire.

On site inspections also revealed that the wiring system had been tampered with and direct tapping cables were connected to the premises.

The mining servers were confined within a small space, leading to the accumulation of heat which ignited flammable egg cartons and gypsum boards nearby.

As a result of the illegal and dangerous power theft, Sarawak Energy is estimated to have incurred losses of approximately RM14,300 per month.

Burnt cryptocurrency mining servers found at 9th Mile, Kuching.

In a separate case, a cryptocurrency mining centre at Jalan Serai, Sibu, was also found to be involved in electricity theft during an operation carried out by Sarawak Energy and Sibu Police.

An electrical system overload at the Taman Ging Bo substation serving the area led to suspicions of unrecorded high consumption.

A total of 34 cryptocurrency mining servers and direct tapping cables used to steal electricity were seized. The owner of the premises was present at the time of the operation.

Police reports have been lodged over both cases and all parties involved will be called for investigations.

Sarawak Energy warned that cryptocurrency mining consumes a large amount of electricity as the servers run non-stop and require cooling units to prevent overheating.

Non-standard installations commonly used in electricity theft for such energy-intensive activities can easily overload the electrical system capacity, increasing the risk of short circuits, appliance damage, fires and even cause loss of lives.

Electricity theft, the utility company reminded, is a criminal offence under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance, which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years of jail if found guilty.

Sarawak Energy reminded customers that tampering with wires to under-record electricity consumption is both illegal and dangerous.

In cases where electricity is stolen for cryptocurrency mining, it can also lead to outages in the surrounding areas, causing unnecessary inconvenience to neighbours.

Together with the Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication and the police, Sarawak Energy will continue to track down anyone stealing electricity for any reason whatsoever.

It is also collaborating with agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) in raising awareness on safe electricity usage to prevent unwanted fires.

Members of the public are reminded not to trust service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use or allow premises owners to enjoy unlimited usage of electricity through meter tampering.

Meter inspection teams are trained to detect various electricity theft methods, including tampered meters, fake electricity meter covers, underground direct tapping and smart meter indications as part of Sarawak Energy’s efforts to curb power theft.

Landlords are strongly advised to conduct background checks on potential tenants, as well as to be mindful and alert of their activities to avoid being implicated in electricity theft committed at the rented premises.

To report any suspicious activities, members of the public may contact Sarawak Energy’s Customer Care Centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at customercare@sarawakenergy.com. — DayakDaily