Police in Tianjin, China have seized 600 Bitcoin mining rigs, exactly the same amount of machines that were stolen in Iceland during a series of heists in December and January. The Bitcoin mining farm caused a short circuit on its electricity meter and was stealing power; electricity authorities noted a 28% increase of power loss on one of their lines prompting an investigation.

It is estimated that if the illegal operation wasn’t stopped it would have cost hundreds of thousands of Chinese yuan (1 USD = 6.3 CNY) per month of electricity, making it one of the biggest power theft cases in recent years. Bitcoin mining utilizes a tremendous 65 TWh of electricity worldwide per year, approximately the same amount of energy consumed by the entire Czech Republic.

Icelandic police had been tracking electricity usage across their country in hopes that once the stolen machines were plugged in they would cause an abnormal spike in electricity usage. This was perhaps the only way they would ever track down the missing Bitcoin mining rigs, since the thieves would likely use the machines to turn a big Bitcoin profit rather than to try and sell them to someone else.

Eleven people were initially arrested in Reykjavik, Iceland after the thefts occurred in December and January, but only two were kept in custody. A reward of ISK 6 million (Icelandic krona, approximately USD 60,000) has been offered by the owners of the stolen Bitcoin mining rigs for information leading to their recovery.

A news agency contacted Icelandic police regarding the seizure of the 600 rigs from the illegal Chinese Bitcoin mining farm, resulting in the Icelandic police sending an inquiry to Chinese police. So far, Icelandic police have not received a response, but once communication is established it will be possible to verify with serial numbers whether the seized machines are in fact the stolen machines from Iceland.

 

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