Sandwell Bitcoin mine found stealing electricity

A suspected Bitcoin “mining” operation illegally stealing electricity has been found by police who were searching for a cannabis farm.

Officers had been tipped off about the site on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell, and raided it on 18 May, West Midlands Police said.

Instead of cannabis plants they found a bank of about 100 computer units.

The force said the cryptocurrency “mine” had stolen thousands of pounds of electricity.

Inquiries with network operator Western Power Distribution found the electric supply had been bypassed.

Banks of servers wired to the electricity

Detectives said they were tipped off about lots of people visiting the unit throughout the day and a police drone picked up a lot of heat coming from the building.

Sgt Jennifer Griffin said, given the signs, they had expected to find a cannabis farm.

“It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it is only the second such crypto mine we have encountered in the West Midlands,” she said.

The process of creating Bitcoin consumes large amounts of electricity.

To increase profits, people often connect large numbers of miners to the network – even entire warehouses full of them.

In February research found it uses more power annually than the whole of Argentina.

The computer equipment has been seized but no arrests have been made, the force said.

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