Officers from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) have seized 3,500 Bitcoin mining machines and arrested a man in raids on 41 locations in Bangkok and its neighbouring province of Nonthaburi.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin told the media that this illegal operation had been in business for about two years and has cost the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) an estimated 500 million baht in lost revenues from alleged electricity theft over that time.
He said that the successful crackdown on this illegal operation was the result of an extensive investigation by the DSI lasting more than a year.
The gang reportedly generated revenue, estimated at 4.2 million baht per month, from the 3,500 mining machines or over 100 million baht in the past two years.
Somsak said that the gang had installed about 100 Bitcoin mining machines at each location and the ringleader had hired about 20 staff to operate the machines.
He said that the DSI suspect that some MEA employees might be complicit in the illegal operation, asking how it could be that the gang had stolen electricity for two years without their knowledge.
He also said that he would like the MEA to investigate the matter as quickly as possible.
According to the justice minister, theft of electricity is risky, because the temperature in the building will increase sharply, making it vulnerable to fire. Three buildings are reported to have caught fire as a result of electricity theft.