Police authorities in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin seized 600 computers that were used for bitcoin mining after the local electrical grid operator noticed abnormal power usage, reported Xinhua Wednesday.
“Eight high-power fans were also seized,” Xinhua said, citing local police and stated that it was the “largest power theft case in recent years.”
The power company supervised the recent sudden rises in line loss on one electricity line, up to 28 percent at the highest. The phenomenon is usually due to a surge in load current.
Further investigation discovered that the junction box of the suspected power user’s electricity meter was short-circuited, probably done to avoid billing.
Bitcoin mining uses a lot of electricity for its computational process, which is done by advanced computers. Miners use high-performance hardware to produce the massive computing power needed to make cryptocurrencies, which involves solving complex mathematical algorithms. This large amount of energy this process requires determines miners to look for locations with easy access to low-cost electrical power.
The monthly electric bill of 600 such computers is assessed at hundreds of thousands of yuan (1 U.S. dollar is around 6.3 yuan).
The report didn’t mention when the police had confiscated the equipment.
China used to be one of the biggest locations for cryptocurrency mining operations before last year when state authorities began a massive crackdown on bitcoin and other digital currencies. It is still yet unknown how much of these mining operations have moved their activities abroad or have been completely shut down.
It was reported in January that China’s central bank communicated to a top-level government internet finance group that the fiscal authority can instruct local governments to control the power usage of bitcoin miners to progressively decrease the scale of their production.
Regarding the case, Xinhua also said in its report that five people are currently being investigated and another individual has been detained in the Tianjin case.