Wooden hut used for cryptocurrency mining

The technical team together with the police gaining access to the wooden hut.

MIRI: A power theft surveillance operation conducted on Friday (June 25) led to the discovery of a cryptocurrency mining centre in an abandoned wooden hut at an oil palm plantation in Jalan Padang Kerbau here.

Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) said that the joint operations with the Miri district police also seized 44 cryptocurrency mining machines worth RM225,000.

“It was discovered that the electricity supply had been connected directly to the wooden hut without a meter during a routine inspection by our professionally trained technical team who is equipped with the necessary equipment and system to detect any power theft methods.

“Together with the Miri district police, the team further inspected the wooden hut and found crypto mining servers, a modem and non-standard wiring connected directly to the nearby transformer.

“The wooden hut was also an unstable structure in danger of collapse at any time during strong winds and coupled with unsafe wiring which posed a risk of electrocution,” SEB said in a statement on Sunday (June 27).

SEB also said all items were dismantled and seized as evidence with a police report lodged over the incident.

It added that the police were also looking for the landowner to assist in the investigation.

“We will continue to widen the search to track down cryptocurrency operations suspected of stealing electricity. 

“Based on recent cases, power theft activities are now closely related to cryptocurrency mining activities and the current modus operandi is by using abandoned houses or huts to avoid detection.

“We are constantly reminding our customers to never compromise on electrical safety as stealing electricity is hazardous. In addition to that, non-standard wiring and illegal connections pose a serious risk to the public as those in the vicinity of power theft activities may fall victims to fire and electrocution.

“Those involved tap electricity supply directly from the overhead lines and use the supply for free, jeopardising the safety of others. Tampered wiring can also lead to electrocution of unsuspecting members of the public unaware of the existence of electricity cables in their vicinity,” it explained.

The technical team found cables in PVC pipes connected directly to the nearby 50kVA pole mounted transformer.

SEB pointed out that unregistered electricity consumption was a criminal offence under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance which carried a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years in jail if found guilty.

“Any illegal connection tapping directly to the mains can cause supply instability and unnecessary outage to the surrounding customers. Moreover, unsafe wiring connections pose a serious safety risk due to the potential threat of electrical fire and electrocution.

“Customers are also reminded not to trust any service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity bills or allow premise owners to enjoy limitless electricity through meter tempering. Our meter inspection teams are trained to detect tampered meters including fake electricity meter covers as part of SEB’s continuing efforts to curb power theft,” it said.

SEB stated that the support from members of the public was much appreciated. Thu, they are encouraged to report of cryptocurrency mining activities at abandoned houses or huts to its customer care centre (1300-88-3111) or email (customercare@sarawakenergy.com) in which all information received will be kept strictly confidential.