NEWS & UPDATES
Unsafe Wiring Connections Used in Stealing Electricity Pose Fire and Electrocution Hazards
Four Cryptocurrency Mining Operators in Miri Caught Stealing Electricity
1 APRIL 2021
Sarawak Energy continues to uncover more power theft cases involving cryptocurrency mining operators who are tapping supply through unsafe wirings despite the constant advisories on this illegal and dangerous act.
In the last three years, there are more than 110 cases of power theft by cryptocurrency mining operators, tapping supply directly from the mains wiring bypassing electricity meters. These unsafe wiring connections pose a serious safety risk to the occupants and public as it can cause electrical fire and electrocution.
Cryptocurrency mining operations require extensive amount of electricity supply, compounded by high cooling requirement due to the heat generated by the equipment used. These energy intensive operations run non-stop, and the combination of poor ventilation and unsafe tampered wirings can easily cause fire.
In a recent two-day joint executive action by Sarawak Energy, the Enforcement and Legal Division of the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak and the Police, four operators were caught stealing electricity to run illegal cryptocurrency mining operations at four different premises located at Taman Tunku, Lopeng and Jalan Miri Bypass Industrial Park.
Prior to the joint operation, the team conducted close surveillance on the operators following public tip-offs.
During the raid, it was discovered that all the premises stole electricity through illegal connections from the incoming mains wiring which bypassed the meters. The wirings were without proper insulation and exposed which is a safety hazard.
Load readings taken on site showed that the operators should be paying between RM75,000 to RM80,000 per month instead of RM200 per month as cryptocurrency mining consumes high amount of electricity to run 24 hours a day and cool the machines. All tampered wirings and meters were dismantled and seized as evidence of power theft. At the same time, three suspects were arrested by the Police and a total of 300 cryptocurrency mining machines were confiscated from all four raided premises.
A police report has been lodged and the premises owners will be called in to assist with investigations under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance. Stealing electricity is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five-year jail term.
The three detained suspects were charged in court for theft. Earlier this year, five cryptocurrency mining operators in Miri were caught for power theft and these cases are still under police investigation.
Since most cryptocurrency mining centres are operating on rented premises, Sarawak Energy continues to advise landlords to be alert over their tenants’ activities constantly to avoid being implicated in any power theft crime committed by the tenants at the rented premises.
Customers are also reminded not to trust any service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use or allow premises owner to enjoy unlimited usage of electricity through meter tampering.
Sarawak Energy will continue to carry out meter inspection activities throughout Sarawak actively with the assistance of all relevant authorities including the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak and the Police.
Members of the public may report any suspicious activities related to power theft and service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity consumption. They can do so by contacting Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
Exposed wires from the illegal connection (copper coloured) poses safety risk of fire and electrocution.
Direct tapping wires at the premises used to steal electricity.
The operations team checking on the wirings for evidence of electricity theft during the raid.
Cryptocurrency mining servers at the raided premises.
Miri Police seizing cryptocurrency servers from the raid.