Malaysia’s crackdown on cryptocurrency mining produced a viral video over the weekend that showed 1,069 computers seized in raids this year getting crushed by a steamroller.
CNBC on Monday quoted Malaysian police commissioner Hakemal Hawari accusing crypto miners of stealing $2 million worth of electricity from illegally tapped power lines.
Cryptocurrency mining requires a large number of high-end computers or modified videogame consoles crunching data, which would normally produce exorbitant electricity bills. The most energetic crypto mining operations in several countries have been charged with stealing electricity to run their operations.
Stealing electricity is quite dangerous in Malaysia, as Hakemal said several house fires have been caused by illegal wiring. The huge power drain caused by the crypto mining operations led police to their headquarters in a series of raids on the island of Borneo from February to April this year.
Police in some countries prefer to auction off seized computers, but Hawari’s department decided to line the 1,069 computers up in the parking lot behind police headquarters and execute them with a steamroller:
CNBC noted that cryptocurrency mining is not technically illegal in Malaysia, but stealing electricity is, with penalties of up to five years in prison and $23,700 in fines. Malaysia is one of the top ten countries worldwide for bitcoin mining. There has been at least one previous prosecution for multi-million-dollar electricity theft by a miner.
Videogame enthusiasts mourned the Malaysian steamrolling of bitcoin rigs, sadly noting that such computers generally have high-end graphics cards to assist with the complex math operations involved in mining. Cryptocurrency demand has created a worldwide shortage of graphics chips for gamers and graphic artists.