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Chinese Police Seize 600 Bitcoin Mining Computers over Electricity Theft

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

Chinese Police in the northeastern port city of Tianjin have reportedly confiscated 600 bitcoin mining computers in a case of alleged electricity theft.

The bitcoin mining equipment was seized after the local power grid operator reported an abnormally high spike in electricity consumption, China’s state-owned press agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

The power company observed sudden increases in power loads, the report revealed, up to 28 percent at peak consumption. A subsequent investigation revealed a junction box that had been allegedly tampered with by bitcoin miners who short-circuited the mains to avoid charges.

The city’s police have detained an individual and investigating five others for their alleged involvement in the bitcoin mining operation.

“Eight high-power fans were also seized,” Xinhua quoted Tianjin’s police as stating, adding that “it was the largest case of power theft in recent years.”

An energy-intensive process, cryptocurrency mining rewards miners with coins for creating blocks of validated transactions to add them onto a blockchain. Profits are made when the mining rewards exceed the heightened demands and costs of computing power and electricity, respectively.

China, once the world’s largest cryptocurrency market, is still home to a majority of the bitcoin hashrate due to inexpensive electricity and cheap labor in the mainland. Earlier this year, a reported crackdown led by China’s central bank on crypto mining operations saw the authority claim it could ‘tell’ local governments all over the country to regulate bitcoin miners’ power consumption in a bid to ‘gradually reduce the scale of their ‘production’.

While the report has since been refuted, there is an unmistakable exodus of cryptocurrency miners leaving China. Chinese bitcoin mining giant Bitmain has already established a new subsidiary in Switzerland amid plans of carving an entry into the United States in the power-abundant, cheap-energy state of Washington.

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