Malaysia police destroy $1.7m worth of Bitcoin mining machines with steamroller

The Bitcoin mining machines are worth an estimated RM5.3 million (S$1.7 million).
The Bitcoin mining machines are worth an estimated RM5.3 million (S$1.7 million).PHOTO: AFP PHOTO/COURTESY OF DENNIS WONG

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian police have hit on a novel way to dispose of more than 1,000 Bitcoin mining machines seized in raids - they crush the devices using a steamroller.

The authorities in Sarawak discovered the machines, worth an estimated RM5.3 million (S$1.7 million), in crackdowns between February and April.

Eight people were arrested for allegedly stealing the equivalent of US$2 million (S$2.7 million) worth of electricity to power the energy-hungry computers, according to police.

"The crypto-miners stole electricity," senior police official Hakemal Hawari said in Miri city, where the devices were seized.

"Their actions are dangerous for life and property, as they can cause power outages."

The 1,069 mining machines were laid out in a carpark of a police station in Miri last week and crushed with a steamroller.

Six of those arrested were convicted of stealing electricity, jailed for six months and fined.

Crypto mining - the process by which computers mint new virtual currency and validate transactions - requires vast amounts of energy and processing power.

The process typically involves large numbers of sophisticated computers that form a specially designed "rig" that runs the complex calculations required to maintain a cryptocurrency network.

Bitcoin mining is common in the South-east Asian nation, and there are regular reports of police arresting crypto miners and seizing their rigs.

While energy-hungry, the process can be lucrative with each bitcoin currently worth more than US$32,000 (S$43,516).