Thieves stole over 600 Bitcoin miners from Icelandic datacentre

Posted Mar 5, 2018 by James Walker
Police in Iceland have arrested 11 people in connection with the theft of Bitcoin mining equipment worth almost $2m. The suspects allegedly stole hundreds of computers during four datacentre raids. The incident has been dubbed the "Big Bitcoin Heist."
Reykjavik  Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland
Hugh Gallagher/Flickr Creative Commons
Iceland has become a hub of Bitcoin mining activity because of the country's cheap renewable electricity. Bitcoin mining requires vast amounts of processing power and has extremely high cooling requirements, so the Icelandic climate is ideal for cryptocurrency operations. This has led to growth in the Icelandic datacentre market over the past several years.
The datacentres are now prime targets for thieves looking to steal valuable computing equipment. According to the Associated Press, four separate burglaries in December and January resulted in the loss of 600 Bitcoin mining rigs from datacentres in Iceland. The computers have not yet been recovered and the crime is one of the biggest thefts in Iceland's history.
"This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before," said Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, the police commissioner on Iceland's southwestern Reykjanes peninsula. "Everything points to this being a highly organized crime."
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The Icelandic police did not disclose the theft earlier in the hope they would be able to identify the thieves. 11 people have now been arrested, including a security guard. On Friday, a judge at the Reykjanes District Court ordered two of the alleged to remain in custody.
Police are continuing their attempts to locate the stolen mining computers. They're now monitoring the island's energy usage in the hope the thieves will inadvertently reveal their location.
Because Bitcoin mining is so energy-intensive, using the equipment could create a noticeable spike in consumption in the vicinity of the stolen goods. The police have requested that electrical companies and Internet service providers report any suspicious requests for additional power.
Although the thieves could resell the equipment, putting them to use in mining would generate far more revenue. Using the servers, the thieves could generate significant quantities of cryptocurrencies to take advantage of the high market prices. Selling the goods as stolen servers would create a much smaller return.
The theft is not expected to impact the operations of the affected mining centres. No data was stored on the servers, so the affected datacentres have only suffered a financial loss.