JOHOR BAHRU – Johor police busted a syndicate which stole electricity to carry out bitcoin mining activities through raids on 21 shop premises in three districts on Feb 15 and 16.
Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the joint operation involving the Johor Criminal Investigation Department and the Southern Zone Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) Seal Team was carried out in Johor Bahru, Muar and Tangkak.
He said that during the raid, seven local men aged 24 to 64 believed to be involved in the activity were also arrested.
He said, during the raid 1,746 units of bitcoin mining machines worth RM2.6 million were also seized.
“We carried out surveillance and intelligence for a month and found that this syndicate has been active since the beginning of 2020. This syndicate has also caused TNB to suffer losses estimated at RM8.6 million,” he told reporters in a press conference, here, today.
Ayob Khan said the seven suspects arrested were found to have played a role in ensuring that the premises were always in good condition and the bitcoin mining machines were not damaged.
“We will continue to investigate because it is believed that the remaining members of the group and the mastermind are still at large.
“We will also take action against them under the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA),” he said.
Ayob Khan said a unit of bitcoin mining machine needed one horsepower to enable it to function for 24 hours and sold for RM200 to RM3,000 online.
He added, last year alone, TNB Johor suffered a loss of around RM90 million due to stolen electricity to carry out bitcoin mining activities.
Ayob Khan said all the suspects were remanded for three days until tomorrow (Feb 18) under Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the case is being investigated under Section 379/427 of the Penal Code.
He added TNB would also take action under Section 37 (3) of the Electricity Supply Act 1990 against the registered account owner.
Personnel tests positive
Ayob Khan in an unrelated development, said a total of 318 police personnel attached with the Johor Police Contingent Headquarters (IPK) have tested positive for COVID-19 from March last year until yesterday.
He said it involved a total of 26 officers, 158 personnel, 23 civilian employees, and 111 families.
“Throughout the period, a total of 304 individuals namely 56 officers, 152 personnel, 47 civilian staff, and 49 families were ordered to undergo quarantine,” he told reporters during a media conference here today.
He said, overall, 622 personnel attached with the state IPK were quarantined and tested positive for COVID-19.
The arrest of nine people meanwhile in Kuching for alleged involvement in a fight here last Sunday has turned out to be a more complicated case than usual.
Two of them tested positive for COVID-19 and one symptomatic suspect is awaiting a second swab test.
But that is not all.
Up to 109 police officers and personnel have had to take the COVID-19 swab test as well and are now undergoing the mandatory quarantine.
The 10 officers and 99 personnel are from the Criminal Investigation Department as well as police escorts and lockup wardens, Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail said today.
They serve in the Gita, Sekama and Tabuan police stations, he told Bernama.
Aidi said the fight took place at Jalan Green on Sunday and the suspects, aged between 20 and 35, were picked up the following day at several places in this city and were subjected to a COVID-19 swab test while under detention.
“The two found to be COVID-19-positive were admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital. The symptomatic third suspect is awaiting the second test. The remaining six suspects tested negative for the disease and are under quarantine in the lockup,” he said.