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Crypto Heist: Thieves Penetrate Bitcoin ATM Warehouse to Steal 85 Devices

Last Updated March 24, 2023 3:31 AM
Mark Emem
Last Updated March 24, 2023 3:31 AM
  • Bitcoin ATMs stored in a warehouse in the Malaysian town of Seremban were stolen.
  • The heist mimics bank robbers digging tunnels to get to vaults.
  • The perpetrators are thought to have intended to put the crypto devices to their own use.

The ‘greatest bank robbery in history’  according to the Guinness World Records involved the use of brains, brawn and no violence. This was the Central Bank of Brazil heist in Fortaleza. The gang rented out premises in a nearby building and dug a tunnel to get to the bank’s vaults. Once there they took away five containers filled with wads of cash.

Now, the closest comparable we have in the cryptocurrency industry has occurred in Malaysia.

According to the Sun Daily, a gang of five people stole 85 bitcoin ATMs  by employing similar tactics. The cryptocurrency vending machines had been stored in a warehouse in Seremban, the capital of the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan. The crypto vending machines are estimated to be worth a little over $10,000.

Gang pitches tent next to bitcoin ATM warehouse

a bitcoin sitting on top of a piece of paper
The Malaysian gang attempted to pull off one of the biggest bitcoin ATM heists ever seen.| Image: shutterstock.com

The gang, which was comprised of four men and one woman, rented out premises located next to the warehouse. Between midnight and 04:30 hours late last month, the gang drilled through the wall separating the two premises and removed the bitcoin ATMs. Besides specialized drilling equipment, police also seized vehicles used by the gang to aid in the theft.

Seremban’s police chief, Mohd Said Ibrahim, disclosed that the gang stole the crypto vending machines for their own use:

“The purpose of the rent was to monitor the movement of the machines, and their motive for stealing was believed to handle the machines themselves.”

In the case of the Fortaleza central bank robbery, only a fraction of the loot was recovered. Also, just a few of the suspects were ever arrested. The Malaysian gang of bitcoin ATM robbers have, however, not been so lucky. Five suspects have already been arrested.

How many crypto vending machines are in Malaysia?

If the bitcoin ATMs were meant to be installed in Malaysia, they would have increased the country’s crypto ATM infrastructure by nearly tenfold.

the list of major cities in malaysia with bitcoin atm installations
Number of bitcoin ATMs in Malaysia. | Source: Coin ATM Radar 

According to Coin ATM Radar, Malaysia currently has just nine bitcoin ATMs . The majority of these devices are located in the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. Across the globe, the total number of bitcoin ATMs is now over 5,000 devices.

This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.