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As per Icelandic media outlet RUV, 600 Bitcoin mining machines which were stolen earlier this year in Iceland could be in China. Icelandic police have sent Chinese authorities an inquiry after the news of Chinese authorities confiscating 600 mining rigs in northern city of Tianjin broke. Police in the Tianjin area reportedly seized the machines after detecting unusually high electricity consumption.
Big Bitcoin Heist
Last year around 600 mining rigs were stolen from data centers in Iceland via four (4) separate burglaries in December’2017 and January’2018. The estimated value of the stolen equipment exceeds 200 million krónur i.e, $2 million and is believed to be an organized crime leading to Iceland’s biggest ever theft. After the theft, a 60,000 dollar reward was offered by the owner of the machines to anyone who could give information that could lead to the recovery of the computers.
Icelandic police were able to identify and arrest two suspects in February 2018. However, the alleged mastermind of the theft ‘Sandri Thor Stefansson’ had escaped a low-security prison in Iceland before fleeing to Sweden. He is now set to be extradited to Iceland from the Netherlands. Thor is said to have fled the country after dramatically escaping from an Icelandic prison through a window before taking a 60-mile trek to Keflavík International Airport and then boarding a plane which was also carrying the country’s prime minister. Thor said that he escaped for being held illegally without any evidence of theft. He complained of continued harassment by the police even after failing to get information that linked him to the theft. After the escape, he was ready to go back to the country but on the condition that the charges against him were cleared. He was subsequently arrested in Amsterdam a week later and has since expressed regret for fleeing from that safe and comfortable prison in Iceland.
Power Theft & the Detection
Chinese authorities detected unusual spike in power consumption in the area. So they started investigating and were able to uncover the “the largest power theft in recent years in China.” The people running the mining factory had short-circuited their electricity meter in order to avoid receiving a bill for the energy used to power the mining machines. If the miners had not tampered with the meter, then they would have received a bill of thousands of Yuan. Along with the mining rigs Chinese police could confiscate eight (8) high power fans, which were used to cool the mining operations.
It’s however not clear whether the seized mining machines have any relationship with Iceland’s stolen mining rigs. Curiously, the machines seized in China have the same count as the number of machines stolen in Iceland i.e., 600. Chinese police have not yet responded to the Icelandic enquiry. Now, only time will tell if there is a connection between the two incidents in Iceland and China or a case of mere coincidence.