Electricity Theft Causes Outage at Jalan Jee Foh, Miri

Investigation Uncovers Cryptocurrency Mining Activities in Residential Area

26 APRIL 2022

Sarawak Energy and the Police recently uncovered electricity theft activities at a cryptocurrency mining centre operating at a residential unit located at Jalan Jee Foh in Miri.

The discovery was made following an outage report in the area. It was discovered that the cause of the outage was a burnt cable due to system overload. This situation is unusual as systems are set to cater for the area’s load demand.

Further investigation revealed that one of the houses in the area was consuming an unusually high amount of electricity, raising suspicions of electricity theft. The team immediately alerted the Police for a joint inspection.

During the inspection, 30 units of mining rigs and other equipment used to mine cryptocurrency were found. Sarawak Energy’s technical team also found direct tapping cables connected directly to the servers, bypassing the electricity meter. The electricity meter was also found tampered with shunting wires and magnets attached.

All cryptocurrency mining rigs, equipment, direct tapping cables and electricity meter were dismantled and seized by the Police as evidence of electricity theft. The landlord was also called to witness the seizure of items. The premises are currently rented out to a tenant with the electricity account still maintained under the landlord’s name.

Cryptocurrency mining servers are energy-intensive machines operating 24 hours daily, often requiring cooling units to avoid them 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.

Sarawak Energy is estimated to have incurred losses of RM11,400 per month or RM410,400 over three years in unregistered electricity consumption in this particular case. Billing records also disclosed that the tenant was paying an unreasonably low electricity bill of RM 50-60 per month as most of the consumed electricity was unrecorded. A police report was lodged and all parties, including the premises owner will be called to assist in the investigation.

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 Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication (MUT) and the Police, the utility will continue to track down electricity thieves that steal electricity to maximise their profits at the expense of public safety.

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.

Landlords are also advised to conduct background checks on potential tenants, be mindful and alert of their activities to avoid being implicated in electricity theft crime committed at the rented premises.

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 Rest assured that all information received will be kept strictly confidential.

Sarawak Energy’s technical team and the Police gaining access to the suspicious premises following an outage in the area.

Direct tapping cables used to steal electricity (indicated by red arrow).

Cryptocurrency mining servers found on site.

Cryptocurrency mining servers seized by Police.