Block reward miners in Malaysia caught stealing power

Malaysian authorities have arrested five block reward miners for allegedly stealing electricity. The police allege that the five stole over $59,000 worth of electricity per month by making unsafe connections that bypassed the meters.

The illegal activity was discovered through a joint operation by the police, the state-owned electricity supplier Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and the Sarawak Ministry of Utilities. In the two-day operation, the authorities reportedly uncovered the illegal activities in three different locations.

The authorities claimed that the monthly electricity bill for the locations came to just above $200 despite operating the block reward mining equipment. However, upon investigations, they discovered that the premises were consuming upwards of $59,500 monthly to run the equipment.

The miners had found a way to bypass the meter, the SEB claimed. It explained:

“At all premises, it was found that unsafe direct tapping cables from the main incoming supply hidden in the gypsum ceiling that were connected straight to the electrical appliances, bypassing the meter and avoiding actual electricity consumption measurements.”

The police officers seized the illegal connections which prosecutors will use as evidence. Stealing electricity in Malaysia is a criminal offence that carries a $23,800 fine as well as five years’ imprisonment.

According to local outlet Malay Mail, cases of electricity theft by block reward miners have shot up in the past two years. In that time, the SEB, together with local police, have investigated close to 50 such cases in the state of Sarawak.

Elsewhere in Malaysia, police raided two premises in the state of Selangor where block reward miners were using electricity illegally. In July’s raid, which lasted for two hours, the authorities discovered illegal wiring that was meant to bypass the electricity meters. The state’s electricity supplier claimed that the two premises had stolen over $7,000 worth of electricity.

In 2019, the country’s major electricity supplier Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) raided 33 premises accused of stealing electricity. The company claimed the premises had been using the electricity for block reward mining. In the six months they had been operating led to over $760,000 in losses to the power company.

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