Dutch Brothers Arrested for Stealing Electricity to Mine Bitcoin

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Two brothers from Rotterdam have been arrested for stealing electricity to mine bitcoins. According to the Openbaar Ministerie, local police confiscated the mining equipment and 200 thousand euros.

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Two Brothers Allegedly Stole Electricity to Mine Bitcoin and Grow Marijuana

Stedin electricity logoLocal reports said the two unnamed brothers owned the equipment, but stole power from the Stedin utility grid.

News outlets reported police had investigated the Kobe Avenue property in Rotterdam for some time before making the arrests.

The brothers have run their mining operation since 2014, investigators told the District Court of Rotterdam. Over the course of that time, the alleged thieves raked in over €200,000 ($224,000) worth of Bitcoin. Prosecutors said the accused thieves may also have more bitcoins stored in a hidden wallet.

Alongside this, the brothers maintained a cannabis operation which was also siphoning power from Stedin. Police seized the crops, growing equipment and mining rigs during the arrest. The prosecution said the men purchased mining equipment with profits from their cannabis business. Allegedly, the cannabis nursery operated for two years and made roughly €75,000 ($84,000) per harvest.

Reports said the brothers were also accused of money laundering. The youngest brother was allegedly the leader of the operation. Because of this, he faces more jail time than his older sibling — who only faces six months. The case investigators said this is the “first of its kind” in the region, and prosecutors are demanding the courts apply maximum punishment.

Not The First Time In The Netherlands

While prosecutors said the crime is a first, in 2014 local Dutch news outlets reported a 43-year-old Tilburg man was also accused of stealing electricity. Reports said the man stole power from a commercial property to power 21 mining rigs.

Police did not confirm how long the operation had been going on, and local news outlets never reported the outcome of the arrest.

The Netherlands is friendly towards Bitcoin use, but police believe the brothers stole the electricity due to a lack of mining profitability. The younger brother faces a sentence of over a year and a half in jail with a fine of €250,000 ($280,000). The Netherlands district court will finalize its decision in two weeks.

The case also follows allegations in June that Chinese miners were stealing electricity. According to the Chinese news outlet Weibo, police located in Ma’anshan confiscated a significant number of mining rigs located in three facilities. In the past, there have been other rumors of Chinese operations using free electricity to fund their businesses.   

It’s peculiar that prosecutors are calling the brothers crime the “first” when a similar crime took place in 2014. However, Dutch news reports believe the illegal cannabis farm was the primary focus of the investigation.

What do you think about the accusations towards the two brothers mining Bitcoin and growing marijuana? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Pixabay. 

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Tags in this story
Illegal Bitcoin mining, Money Laundering, Netherlands
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