Malaysian authorities have seized more than 1,000 bitcoin mining rigs and crushed them using a steamroller, according to local reports.
Six people were charged in relation to the cryptocurrency mines following a joint police operation between February and April, The Star newspaper in Malaysia reported.
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1,069 machines used for mining were destroyed in total, after the operators were accused of stealing electricity from the grid to power them.
“A total of six people have been successfully charged under Section 379 of the Penal Code for electricity theft and have been fined up to RM8,000 (£1,380) and jailed for up to eight months,” said Malaysian police chief Hakemal Hawari.
“The electricity theft for mining bitcoin activities has caused frequent power outages, and in 2021 three houses were razed due to illegal electricity supply connections.”
Illicit bitcoin mining operations have been discovered everywhere from Russia to the UK in recent years, typically involving criminals stealing electricity to power the rigs needed to mint cryptocurrency.
The process of bitcoin mining is known as proof-of-work, as it involves solving complex mathematical puzzles using vast amounts of computing power.
The energy consumption has led to environmental concerns, particularly in countries like China where mining operations are powered by coal and other fossil fuels. A recent crackdown in the country has seen miners move to other countries where electricity is more often produced from renewable energy sources, such as Norway, Canada and the US.
The ban in China, where at one point more than 50 per cent of all mining took place, has led to a collapse in competition among miners to solve the puzzles required to generate bitcoins.
The so-called “network difficulty” has fallen 45 per cent since May, meaning it is far easier to mine bitcoin .