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Bitcoin thirst spurs Icelandic heist—“Grand theft on a scale unseen before”

"Everything points to this being a highly organized crime," Iceland police say.

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Enlarge / Reykjanes is just southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.

Eleven people have been arrested in Iceland as a result of what local media are calling the “Big Bitcoin Heist”—600 mining computers were recently stolen from Icelandic data centers in four separate burglaries between December 2017 and January 2018.

According to the Associated Press, which cited Icelandic authorities, the heist is “the biggest series of thefts ever” in the island nation.

So far, a Reykjanes District Court judge ordered two of the 11 arrested individuals to remain in custody. Apparently, the specialized machines have not yet been located and are worth approximately $2 million.

"This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before," Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, the police commissioner on the southwestern Reykjanes Peninsula (where two of the burglaries took place), told the AP. "Everything points to this being a highly organized crime."

Given that electricity is relatively cheap in Iceland compared to other parts of Europe thanks to the country's plentiful geothermal energy, Bitcoin mining has been in high demand despite Iceland's population of just over 300,000 people. Later this year, Bitcoin mining is expected to draw more energy than all of its residents combined.

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Channel Ars Technica