Cryptocurrency mining facility at Miri’s Pelita Commercial Centre catches fire

The shoplot where the cryptocurrency mining took place.

MIRI, May 6: An illegal cryptocurrency mining facility has caused a fire at a shoplot in Pelita Commercial Centre that has destroyed at least 50 units of cryptocurrency mining

In a statement today, Sarawak Energy reiterated that stealing electricity to power cryptocurrency operations risks bringing danger to the public.

Before the fire could be extinguished safely, firefighters immediately alerted Sarawak Energy to perform an emergency shutdown when they received a distress call.

After the fire was put out, Sarawak Energy’s technical team discovered direct tapping cables connected from the main wiring directly into the premises and charred cables were also found at the scene.

Based on these findings and similar cases in the past, Sarawak Energy said the fire was caused by the illegal and unsafe wiring system used to mine cryptocurrency that can easily overload the electrical system capacity and increase the risk of short circuits.

A police report has been lodged over this matter, and the operator, together with the premises owner, will be called to assist in the investigation.

Direct tapping cables used to steal electricity.

Since 2018, Sarawak Energy has recorded 161 cases of cryptocurrency miners stealing electricity, with 60 per cent found in Miri and 30 per cent in Kuching.

These cases led to system overload in residential and commercial areas in the city. Sarawak Energy is said to incur losses of more than RM43 million from these cases.

The utility company added that recent surges in electricity theft among these operators are also linked to fires threatening public safety, with 11 fire cases recorded, 10 of which occurred in Miri.

As investigations revealed that most of these operations took place in rented properties, landlords are strongly advised to conduct background checks on potential tenants and be mindful and alert of their activities to avoid being implicated in electricity theft committed at the rented premises.

Sarawak Energy warned that electricity theft 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 in jail.

Burnt cryptocurrency mining servers found on site.

Sarawak Energy reminds customers that tampering with wires to under-record electricity consumption is illegal and dangerous. Furthermore, in cases where electricity is stolen for energy-intensive activities such as cryptocurrency mining, it can also lead to outages in the surrounding areas, causing unnecessary inconvenience to neighbours.

With the Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication and the police, Sarawak Energy will continue to track down electricity thieves who operate at the expense of public safety to maximise their profits.

Firefighters also support the move against electricity theft through their advisories on safe electricity usage to prevent unwanted fires, especially during festive seasons.

Members of the public are also 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.

To report any suspicious activities, members of the public can contact Sarawak Energy’s Customer Care Centre at 1300-88-3111 or email — DayakDaily