Sarawak Energy, police bust cryptocurrency mining operator for electricity theft in Bintulu

Location of the cryptocurrency mining centre at the Nyabau industrial area in Bintulu.

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KUCHING, July 3: A cryptocurrency mining operator in Bintulu was caught stealing electricity following the detection of an unusually high electricity load in the Nyabau industrial area, which raised suspicions of cryptocurrency mining activities in the vicinity.

According to a press release issued by Sarawak Energy today, upon inspecting the site in a joint operation with the police, the team discovered 55 still-operational cryptocurrency mining servers.

“Even though there was an electricity meter installed, the servers were connected directly to the incoming mains wiring, so the meter was unable to detect and record the amount of electricity consumed,” Sarawak Energy stated.

It mentioned that on-site load readings revealed that the actual amount should have been RM9,600 per month instead of the recorded RM250 per month.

“All direct tapping cables, cryptocurrency mining servers, and other electronic gadgets were dismantled and seized as evidence of electricity theft.

“Police reports have been lodged, and all involved parties will be called to assist in the investigation,” it added.

Sarawak Energy disclosed that cryptocurrency mining is an energy-intensive activity which operates 24 hours, often requiring cooling units to prevent the servers from overheating.

“Non-standard fuses and illegal wiring connections commonly used in electricity theft can lead to short circuits, damaged appliances, fire, and loss of lives.

“When electricity is stolen for such a purpose, it can easily overload the electrical system capacity, resulting in outages and affecting those living within the vicinity,” it pointed out.

In addition, Sarawak Energy warned the public that stealing electricity is a dangerous act and a criminal offence under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance, which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years jail if found guilty.

“Together with the Sarawak Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication and the police, the utility company will continue to track down electricity thieves who operate at the expense of public safety to maximise their profits.

“In terms of raising awareness, the utility company is working with relevant agencies such as the firefighters to educate the public on the dangers of electricity theft to prevent unwanted fire incidents,” Sarawak Energy revealed.

Furthermore, it noted that members of the public should not trust service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity usage or allow premises owners to enjoy unlimited use of electricity through meter tampering.

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

“Landlords are also advised to be mindful of their tenants’ activities and have their power utility accounts registered under the tenant’s name to avoid being implicated in power theft crimes committed at the rented premises.

“Those with information on suspicious activities related to power theft and on service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use are strongly encouraged to report by contacting Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email customercare@sarawakenergy.com. All information received will be kept strictly confidential,” Sarawak Energy remarked. — DayakDaily