When you think about people who steal Bitcoin, you probably think of someone sitting somewhere in a basement, silently clicking away at some elaborately (or not-so-elaborately) constructed phishing website. As terrible as it is to have your coins stolen, we don’t often associate crypto theft with violent crime.
However, for some unfortunate parties around the world–most recently, a Canadian crypto exchange–that perception has been permanently changed.
Armed with handguns, the men charged into the offices of an Ottawa-based Bitcoin exchange and began their attack. The men bound four of the employees, striking one of them on the head with a gun; a fifth employee who happened to be in another room managed to contact the police.
Of course, short of stealing the hardware on which BTC are located, no one can actually steal physical Bitcoins. Instead, the robbers attempted to get the employees at the exchange to complete a transaction.
They were unsuccessful, and fled the scene; one of the suspects reportedly ran into a ravine, and was eventually arrested and identified as 19-year-old Jimmy St-Hilaire. The other two men involved in the crime are still at large.
No One Was Badly Injured and Nothing Stolen, But Employees Have Been Traumatized
The affected exchange has not been publicly identified, although Motherboard reported that an exchange by the name of ‘Canadian Bitcoins’ has listed its address as being very close to the approximate location of the attempted burglary.
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— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) January 24, 2018
Additionally, a spokesperon for Canadian Bitcoins confirmed the attempted robbery in an emailed statement to Motherboard on Tuesday, writing that “as police have mentioned, no one was seriously hurt during the incident, but one staff member did sustain minor injuries. Our focus is on supporting our staff at this time as well as working with the police in their investigation.”
Unfortunately, as cryptocurrency enters further into the mainstream, incidences and threats of physical violence have become more prevalent. Former Exmo executive, Pavel Lerner, was kidnapped in Ukraine last year; Louis Meza was charged with armed robbery for stealing $1.8 million worth of Ether at gunpoint.
Just two days ago, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office in the US has warned residents of a BTC scam that has threatened violence against victims who fail to pay up in Bitcoin.
Hopefully, the eventual apprehension of these thieves will deter any would-be criminals from engaging in such violent acts.