NEWS & UPDATES
First Bintulu Case of Cryptocurrency Mining Centre Power Theft
Illegal Direct Tapping Cables Hidden behind Meter Board Cut Out
6 MARCH 2020
The operator of a cryptocurrency mining centre in Bintulu has been caught stealing electricity. The data mining centre located on the second floor of a shophouse at Jalan Sibiyu was discovered to be directly tapping electricity supply from the mains, bypassing the meter. The illegal connections were found hidden behind the meter board cut out, avoiding detection.
The crime or offence was discovered recently in a joint operation led by the Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) from the Ministry of Utilities, Sarawak Energy’s meter inspection team and the Police.
The operation was triggered by public tip-offs and months of surveillance following detection of irregular electricity readings for the premises.
The premises raised suspicions when it was recording unreasonably low monthly power bills of RM50 to RM150 despite round-the-clock operations of its mining servers. Eventual on-site load readings would show that the monthly power consumption should have been at least RM5,000.
Sarawak Energy utility arm, Syarikat SESCO Berhad (SESCO) technicians, who are trained to detect electricity theft, seized all the illegal connection cables and the tampered meter as evidence.
A police report was also lodged and the business owners will be called to assist in the investigation.
Sarawak Energy has raided 85 cryptocurrency operators for stealing electricity in Kuching, Sibu and Miri since 2018 with this case the first recorded in Bintulu.
The EIU and State Attorney General (SAG) will commence legal action against the business owner for stealing electricity under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance.
Sarawak Energy is mandated to recover arrears from account holders under the Electricity Ordinance. Power theft is a criminal offence carrying a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years’ imprisonment. It endangers lives and damages customers’ properties including electrical appliances, which may lead to fires.
Sarawak Energy will continue to carry out meter inspections and investigation operations throughout Sarawak together with the Ministry of Utilities and the Police to curb this dangerous activity.
Customers are reminded not to trust service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity bills or allow premise owners to enjoy limitless electricity through meter tampering as meter inspection teams are trained to detect tampered meters and direct tapping wires as part of efforts to curb power theft.
The public is encouraged to continue to report any suspicious activity, including details of power theft service providers via Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at email@example.com. All information obtained will be kept strictly confidential.
One of the hidden direct tapping cables found at the meter cut out board.
The illegal connection is hidden behind the meter of the premise.
The illegal connections and meter were seized as evidence.
Picture of the three direct tapping wires connected at the back of the red and yellow phase cut-out and neutral link connected to the second floor. The arrows indicate the hidden cables.