In a cartoonish crackdown on electricity theft, Malaysian authorities crushed over 1,000 crypto mining rigs using a steamroller.
The 1,069 rigs were seized in the Malaysian city of Miri during six raids between February and April this year after police suspected the miners were stealing electricity to power their operation, according to Dayak Daily. An energy company alleges that over 8.4 million Malaysian Ringgit (almost $2 million) worth of electricity has been stolen in just three months. Six people now have been charged with electricity theft and face up to eight months jail time, as well as a fine of 8,000 Malaysian Ringgit (around $1,900).
To make a public statement against this increasingly bothersome crime, a steamroller was used to destroy the seized rigs at the Miri district police headquarters last week. The ever-so bizarre footage was also uploaded to YouTube by the Dayak Daily.
Crypto mining has become somewhat of a problem in Malaysia (as well as other parts of the world). Along with financial losses from electricity theft, crypto mining has put a strain on the country’s power grid, often resulting in blackouts.
Bitcoin, Ethereum, and most other cryptocurrencies run on a decentralized network that records transactions in a distributed ledger called a blockchain. To process and verify a transaction, the system uses a “proof-of-work” process that involves computers within the network competing to solve complicated cryptography puzzles. For this effort, the computers that contribute to this process are rewarded with cryptocurrency, a process known as mining.
However, mining is an electricity-hungry business. The cryptography puzzles involved in mining have become increasingly more complex and harder to solve. Ten years ago, mining software could happily run on a household computer, but now it requires vast amounts of computing power to make any worthwhile reward.
More computing power means more electricity. On top of that, some bitcoin mines need electricity to cool down the furiously working computers. As of 2021, bitcoin mining drains more electricity than the entirety of Argentina and, in turn, generates more carbon emissions each year than the Czech Republic.
In 2019, China accounted for around 75 percent of all mining activity. However, a recent government crackdown on cryptocurrencies has seen multiple Chinese provinces ban cryptocurrency mining altogether. Authorities have also recently told banks and payments platforms to stop supporting cryptocurrency transactions. This bold clampdown in China has created a significant shift in where cryptocurrencies are now being mined, with mining operations becoming more prevalent in the US, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia.