Cryptocurrency mining rigs stolen in brazen Iceland heist, 11 arrested

03/06/2018

Icelandic cops are taking mugshots of eleven people they’ve arrested as part of the biggest theft in that nation’s history.

But what was stolen wasn’t gold bullion or cash or weed. Nope, it was cryptocurrency mining rigs. 600 of them, to be precise, over four burglaries that stretched over two months.

Eleven people, including a security guard, were arrested in Iceland in connection with the theft of almost $2 million worth of cryptocurrency-mining equipment from local data centers.

Icelandic media are referring to the theft as the “Big Bitcoin Heist.” It’s not so much about the theft of Bitcoins themselves, though, but rather that of the equipment used to earn them.

The thefts weren’t publicized at the time they happened – December of last year – as authorities decided to monitor electricity usage to see if they could figure out where the servers were being housed.

Iceland is ground zero in the Bitcoin mining world, with Canadian public company HIVE Blockchain (HIVE.V) having a data centre on the island that consumes some 3 MW of power to operate.

That desire for energy has created a gold rush for bitcoin in Iceland. Traders searching for cheap, renewable energy have been flooding into the island in recent months to take advantage of its geothermal and hydroelectric power plants.

Unusually high energy usage might reveal the whereabouts of the illegal bitcoin mine.

Authorities this week called on local internet providers, electricians and storage space units to report any unusual requests for power.

HIVE stands with a $480m market cap, having developed crypto mining data centres in Iceland and Sweden. It recently put out results that showed 3MW of power can generate some $3m of crypto in a quarter. A further 40MW is being put together in Sweden, to be operation later this year.

— Chris Parry

FULL DISCLOSURE: The author owns stock in HIVE. The company has no commercial partnership with Equity.Guru.

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