Crypto crackdown: Malaysian police steamroll bitcoin machines

July 23, 2021

Issued on: Modified:

Kuala Lumpur (AFP)

Malaysian police hit on a novel way to dispose of more than 1,000 bitcoin-mining machines seized in raids -- they crushed the devices using a steamroller.

Authorities on Borneo island discovered the machines, worth an estimated 5.3 million ringgit ($1.25 million), in crackdowns between February and April.

Eight people were arrested for allegedly stealing the equivalent of $2 million worth of electricity to power the energy-hungry computers, according to police.

"The crypto-miners stole electricity," said Hakemal Hawari, a senior police official in the city of Miri, where the devices were seized.

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"Their actions are dangerous for life and property, as they can cause power outages."

The 1,069 mining machines were laid out in a car park of a police station in Miri last week and crushed with a steamroller.

Six of those arrested were convicted of stealing electricity, jailed for six months and fined.

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Crypto-mining -- the process by which computers mint new virtual currency and validate transactions -- requires vast amounts of energy and processing power.

The process typically involves large numbers of sophisticated computers that form a specially designed "rig" that runs the complex calculations required to maintain a cryptocurrency network.

Bitcoin mining is common in the Southeast Asian nation, and there are regular reports of police arresting crypto-miners and seizing their rigs. While energy-hungry, the process can be lucrative with each bitcoin currently worth more than $32,000.