KUCHING: Two cryptocurrency mining centres operating in Kota Samarahan were caught stealing electricity during a raid on the premises following reports of outages in the locality.
According to a statement, the joint raid operation between Sarawak Energy and the police was triggered when members of the public reported three supply interruptions in the area within one week and Sarawak Energy’s technical team observed abnormally high electrical load readings in the same area.
A caretaker at one of the premises at the time of the raid was arrested by the police.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the caretaker was hired by the operator to oversee the cryptocurrency mining activities. Police reports were lodged and all involved parties will be investigated further.
A total of 38 cryptocurrency mining servers were found as well as direct tapping cables were used to connect electricity supply from the incoming main wiring at both sites.
All the servers, electronic gadgets, direct tapping cables and electricity meters were dismantled and seized as evidence of the electricity theft.
It is estimated that Sarawak Energy has incurred losses of approximately RM24,000 per month due to the stolen electricity.
Cryptocurrency mining consumes a large amount of electricity as the servers run non-stop and require a cooling system 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.
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.
Sarawak offers the lowest average unsubsidised tariffs in Malaysia and the region. Despite this, cryptocurrency miners are still stealing electricity in efforts to minimise operation cost to maximise profit.
Sarawak Energy will continue to work with the Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication and the police to track down and detect more electricity thieves as it believes that electricity theft among cryptocurrency mining operators is still rampant and masterminded by certain parties.
Collaboration with other agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Department is also ongoing to raise awareness on safe electricity usage to prevent any fire incidents.
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 metre tampering.
Metre inspection teams are trained to detect various electricity theft methods, including tampered metres, fake electricity metre covers, underground direct tapping and smart metre indications 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 tenants’ names to avoid being implicated in power theft crimes committed at the rented premises.
Sarawak Energy strongly encourages those with information on suspicious activities related to power theft and on service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity to contact Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email email@example.com. All information received will be kept strictly confidential.