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Bitcoin mining hardware on display at a conference in New York in 2014 Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Bitcoin mining hardware on display at a conference in New York in 2014

Cryptocurrency Mining Gear Stolen from Iceland Data Center: AP

The gear itself is worth $2M, but thieves could earn much more if they put it to work.

Data center providers leasing space to players in the highly volatile cryptocurrency mining business have another thing to worry about besides their mining clients becoming insolvent overnight.

Mining gear, it turns out, can be valuable enough for a crew of criminals to organize a data center heist. The Icelandic IT services firm Advania learned this firsthand in December and January, when in a series of four data center burglaries thieves stole $2 million worth of mining servers, two of the burglaries occurring in its facility.

Eleven people, including a security guard, were arrested recently in connection to the heist, the Associated Press reported Friday. The article doesn’t name the data center operators, but the Icelandic news site Visir said one of them was Advania. It's unclear where the other two burglaries took place.

Miners have flocked to Iceland recently, attracted by the abundance of relatively inexpensive renewable energy.

News of the heist wasn’t made public earlier to make it easier for authorities to track the thieves.

The 600 specialized miner computers are potentially worth a lot more than their direct sale value. That’s if the thieves use them for their intended purpose. A single bitcoin, for example, is currently worth about $11,500.

Putting the mining equipment to work may be hard to do without getting caught, however. Police have requested that local internet service providers, electricians, and storage space providers report unusual requests for power.

Police are also monitoring energy consumption across the island for any load spikes that might reveal an illegal cryptocurrency mine, an industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity told the AP.

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