NEWS & UPDATES
Cryptocurrency Mining Centre In Miri Catches Fire
Stealing electricity endangers public and has destructive consequences
6 MAY 2022
Electricity theft to power cryptocurrency operations continue to bring danger to the public. Recently, an early morning fire broke out at a Pelita Commercial Centre shoplot filled with cryptocurrency mining equipment.
Firefighters immediately alerted Sarawak Energy to perform an emergency shutdown when they received a distress call before the fire could be extinguished safely.
Sarawak Energy’s technical team discovered approximately 50 burnt cryptocurrency mining machines at the premises after the fire was put out. Direct tapping cables which were connected from the mains wiring directly into the premises and charred cables were also found at the scene. Based on these findings and similar cases in the past, the fire was caused by the illegal and unsafe wiring system used to mine cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency mining is an energy-intensive activity which operates 24 hours, often with cooling units to prevent the servers from overheating. Non-standard fuses and illegal wiring connections commonly used in electricity theft can easily overload the electrical system capacity, increasing the risk of short circuits, damaging appliances, causing fires and even loss of lives.
A police report has been lodged over this matter and the operator, together with the premises owner will be called to assist in the investigation.
Since 2018, a total of 161 cases of cryptocurrency miners stealing electricity were recorded, with 60% found in Miri and 30% in Kuching. These cases led to system overload in residential and commercial areas in the city. Sarawak Energy is said to incur losses more than RM43 million from these cases.
Recent surges in electricity theft among these operators are also linked to fires threatening public safety, with 11 fire cases recorded, 10 of which occurred in Miri.
Investigations revealed that most of these operations took place in rented properties. Landlords are strongly advised to conduct background checks on potential tenants, as well as to be mindful and alert of their activities to avoid being implicated in electricity theft committed at the rented premises.
Electricity theft is 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 Energy reminds customers that tampering with wires to under-record electricity consumption is both illegal and dangerous. In cases where electricity is stolen for energy intensive activities such as cryptocurrency mining, it can also lead to outages in the surrounding areas, causing unnecessary inconvenience to neighbours.
Together with the Sarawak Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication and the Police, the utility will continue to track down electricity thieves who operate at the expense of public safety to maximise their profits.
Firefighters are also showing their support in the move against electricity theft through their advisories on safe electricity usage to prevent unwanted fires especially during festive seasons.
Members of the public are reminded not to trust service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use or allow premises owner to enjoy unlimited usage of electricity through meter tampering. Meter inspection teams are trained to detect various electricity theft methods, including tampered meters, fake electricity meter covers and underground direct tapping as part of Sarawak Energy's efforts to curb power theft.
To report any suspicious activities related to electricity theft and service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use, members of the public can contact Sarawak Energy’s Customer Care Centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at email@example.com. All information received will be kept strictly confidential.
The shoplot where cryptocurrency mining took place.
Firefighters putting out the fire.
Direct tapping cables used to steal electricity.
Burnt cryptocurrency mining servers found on site.