On March 5, 2018, reports emerged that some criminals had stolen at least 600 bitcoin mining equipment from data centers in Iceland. A few weeks later, precisely on April 27, 2018, Chinese police seized 600 bitcoin mining machines and apprehended the culprits behind the illegal mining activity.
Now, Icelandic authorities have launched an investigation to know whether the miners confiscated by the Asian forces belong to them.According to local news outlet RUV, police in Iceland have sent a communiqué to authorities in China in a bid to get more details about the seized machines.
Though the missing 600 mining equipment was not stolen all at once from the data center, the Icelandic officials strongly believe there might be a correlation between the incidence in China and the ‘Big bitcoin heist,’ which took place in the towns of Reykjanes and Borgarbyggd between December 2017 and January 2018.
“This is grand theft on a scale unseen before. Everything points to this being a highly organized crime,” said police chief, Olafur Helgi Kjartansson back in March 2018. The security operatives in charge of the case hinted that they purposely delayed reporting the news to the public to capture the criminals quickly.
The owners of the machines had since placed a reward of a whopping $60,000 for anyone who can give investigators a useful lead that will help in recovering the systems.
Prime Suspect Captured
Interestingly, quite many suspects were arrested in connection with the heist, including the number one suspect, Sindri Thor Stefansson but none of them have been able to give concrete information concerning the location of the expensive equipment so far.
On April 17, the prime suspect of the operation, Stefansson escaped through a window of his low-security Sogn prison, before boarding same flight with Iceland’s prime minister to Sweden on April 19. Police authorities said the bandit traveled with someone else’s passport but his image was captured via surveillance camera.
“He had an accomplice. We are sure of that,” said police Chief Gunnar Schram at the time.
Per Frettabladid, after Stefansson’s escape, he sent in a letter to them claiming he had been detained for several months without any substantial evidence before he escaped from prison on the expiration of his order of detention.
“I simply refuse to be in prison of my own will, especially when the police threaten to arrest me without explanation,” he wrote.
Stefansson was re-arrested towards the end of April 2018 by Dutch police officials, but up to now, the over $2 million worth of bitcoin mining equipment is yet to be found.
Iceland remains a place of choice for bitcoin mining activities. The cold weather, coupled with the favorable policies of the nation makes it a haven for crypto-related businesses, and it may remain this way for a very long time to come.