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Increased Power Usage Leads to Mistaken Pot Busts for Bitcoin Miners

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the earn-virtual-money-from-home dept.

Bitcoin 411

c0lo writes "The Canadian town of Mission, BC has a bylaw that allows the town's Public Safety Inspection Team to search people's homes for grow ops if they are using more than 93 kWh of electricity per day. There have allegedly been reports floating in IRC of two different cases of police showing up at a Bitcoin miner's residence with a search warrant. Ohio police and the DEA file at least 60 subpoenas each month for energy-use records of people suspected of running an indoor pot growing operation. DEA Agent Anthony Marotta said high electricity usage does not always mean the residence is an indoor pot farm and has surprised federal agents. 'We thought it was a major grow operation ... but this guy had some kind of business involving computers. I don't know how many computer servers we found in his home.'"

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411 comments

Jokes on them (4, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232804)

Dude's probably buying drugs with his bitcoins.

Re:Jokes on them (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232830)

I got a GPU, don't make me use it, Cop!

Growing pot is better. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232816)

Better use of the electicity

Re:Growing pot is better. (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233440)

How does the electricity to bitcoin ration pay off? Anyone knows?

Servers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232822)

"I don't know how many computer servers we found in his home. Seizing them has really put our department's IT unit on the fast track though. God Bless lax asset forfeiture laws."

One more nail (-1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232828)

Just another nail in the coffin of the Bill of Rights.

Re:One more nail (2, Informative)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232868)

You realize this was in Canada, right? High power consumption alone is insufficient to obtain a search warrant in the United States.

Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (3, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232902)

You realize this was in Canada, right? High power consumption alone is insufficient to obtain a search warrant in the United States.

If you had read all the way to the third sentence, you would have seen:

Ohio police and the DEA file at least 60 subpoenas each month for energy-use records of people suspected of running an indoor pot growing operation.

Ohio is part of the US, and the DEA is a US Federal agency.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232990)

If you knew what you were talking about, you might understand that subpoenas and search warrants are not the same thing. That post isn't nearly as useless as you make it out to be, so please, quiet down, grumpy slashdotter.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (2)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233148)

And if you knew anything about the way police raid homes you would know that they use those electricity bills as justification for a search warrant, absent any other evidence.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (5, Informative)

PraiseBob (1923958) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233026)

To be fair, the people in Ohio are suspected first, and THEN their electricity records are being pulled to confirm suspicions.
Whereas in Canada, it looks like any random citizen's electricity usage can be monitored by the government.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233344)

To be fair, the people in Ohio are suspected first, and THEN their electricity records are being pulled to confirm suspicions.
Whereas in Canada, it looks like any random citizen's electricity usage can be monitored by the government.

In America, they ruled the DEA scanning for heat signatures from random houses violated the 4th Amendment.

In Canada, I'm surprised they care at all, given that when I was in Vancouver last week, I saw no less than three people smoking pot openly on the streets. One of them was while I was trying to eat sushi outdoors, which was rather annoying. Pot may decrease violence in its users... but there might be a Conservation of Rage principle at work.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233356)

It's either that, or the cops can just claim they smelled weed and heard some noises coming out of your house, which obviously indicates that you're flushing your stash down the toilet. Then they'll send in a SWAT team who will shoot you 70 times and deny you medical care for an hour. Have a nice evening.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233050)

Ohio is part of the US

Well I can only think of one way to solve that problem.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (1)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233244)

You realize this was in Canada, right? High power consumption alone is insufficient to obtain a search warrant in the United States.

If you had read all the way to the third sentence, you would have seen:

Ohio police and the DEA file at least 60 subpoenas each month for energy-use records of people suspected of running an indoor pot growing operation.

Ohio is part of the US, and the DEA is a US Federal agency.

This is exactly what I said. The warrant based on power usage alone, thus searching a bitcoin miner's house, was in Canada. In the US, other evidence is required in addition to power usage to obtain a warrant. Note that the DEA isn't even obtaining power usage information, nevermind a search warrant, without prior evidence.

Re:Ohio is in the US [Re:One more nail] (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233332)

In the US they've served no-knock raids against homeowners who have broken no law and had less than that for a reason to invade. Oh, and in multiple cases, they killed the homeowners they invaded. It's better that way because the dead can't sue, and if all the live witnesses are cops, no one ever did anything wrong. And all that without any "evidence" to speak of.

Re:One more nail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232914)

In the United States, you just have to say you thought you smelled some dope for cars. Standards are a teensy bit higher for houses due to some quirks of our legal structure, but not that much higher. If you want to go for the extra bonus points, bring a drug dog and surreptitiously order it to bark.

Re:One more nail (2)

PraiseBob (1923958) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232966)

Canada has a bill of rights too, and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, both of which are focused on protecting personal property from unreasonable search and seizure.
But it looks like using "too much" power automatically means somebody is treated like a criminal and subject to being searched to prove otherwise.

Re:One more nail (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233314)

It's enough in the US to get a subpoena for the records, and that is enough to start an investigation. And, the average bitcoin miner will live a life similar to a grower (lots of usage with no light output) which, added together, is more PC than on most search warrants.

Re:One more nail (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232886)

Didn't even bother to read past the first sentence?

"Ohio police and the DEA file at least 60 subpoenas each month for energy-use records of people suspected of running an indoor pot growing operation."

Re:One more nail (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232920)

Oops. That was meant for the guy responding to you.

Re:One more nail (2)

Niris (1443675) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232892)

Second word of the summary is Canadian...

Re:One more nail (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232926)

Canada does not have a bill of rights. They have a Queen.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233136)

If Canada doesn't have a charter of rights, then what's this [justice.gc.ca] ?

Re:Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233294)

It's what Harper wipes his ass with, every time he has a "great idea".

Re:One more nail (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233448)

Umm - actually England (which is ruled by the Queen) has a bill of rights [wikipedia.org] too, which was written a full 100 years before the US got it's Bill of Rights.

Shut up with the bitcoin stories (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232876)

Seriously, this is getting annoying. Editors, you guys need to knock it off. The bitcoin fanatics are using you as an advertising push. It is getting annoying. Leave off it already.

Re:Shut up with the bitcoin stories (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232974)

So they should have suppressed the story because BitCoin was peripherally involved. Right.

No You shutup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232998)

Go crawl back under your rock

Re:Shut up with the bitcoin stories (3, Insightful)

diamondmagic (877411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233024)

This story only happens to involve Bitcoin. Bitcoin or not, this is Your Rights Online. The notion you could get raided just because of what you do with your own time and money is outrageous.

Re:Shut up with the bitcoin stories (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233382)

this is Your Rights Online.

Looking at the location bar, this seems to be idle.

Re:Shut up with the bitcoin stories (4, Insightful)

cyberworm (710231) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233062)

While I can see your annoyance at the recent spade of bitcoin articles, this is interesting outside of bitcoin. What if you had a beowulf clusters or stacks of machines running folding or other, arguably, more useful applications. High energy usage or a sudden spike in power consumption shouldn't be probable cause in and of itself.

I dread to think what would happen if a sudden and consistent spike in energy usage were probable cause where I live. I went two years without a television, with my main drains on electricity being my laptop, speakers, and my fridge. Once I picked up an older 50" plasma monitor and started playing my PS3 I noticed a considerable increase in cost/use. Should I have my door kicked in because I might be growing weed, even though the reality is much more innocuous (smoking weed and playing video games)?

Re:Shut up with the bitcoin stories (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233328)

Pragmatically, this whole ordeal should be a non issue. If people want to grow pot in their homes, let them. Big fuckin' deal!

The only reason pot is so demonized is because it's easy to identify and prosecute. It is, by far, the least damaging "drug" in the western world. I'm way more worried about getting a heart attack from too much Advil, unsurprisingly due to the stress caused by all these conservative idiots trying to tell people how to live their lives. The pothead next door, while annoying with his brain-damanged music tastes and lack of valuable employment, is far less harmful to my existence than the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry that wants me to be sick 24-7 so I can consume their overpriced filth.

I think the Bitcoin thing is a very short-lived fad. The more people get in on it, the less valuable it becomes. The guy who's getting raided this week, well next week would have dropped out anyway once the mining "difficulty" doubles and he's suddenly spending more on hydro and Radeon 5970's than he's getting back in funny money. Big whoop!

Re:Shut up with the bitcoin stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233400)

I think the Bitcoin thing is a very short-lived fad. The more people get in on it, the less valuable it becomes. The guy who's getting raided this week, well next week would have dropped out anyway once the mining "difficulty" doubles and he's suddenly spending more on hydro and Radeon 5970's than he's getting back in funny money. Big whoop!

The growth curve seems to indicate that the more people get in on it, the more valuable it becomes. Although right now, 'mining' bitcoin is a fool's errand; it would be cheaper to just buy them than to spend the power mining them.

Odds are the currency will crash and be forgotten, but it's not a foregone conclusion.

Funniest thing is... (4, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232880)

They spent more on those machines, and on the electricity to run them, than they ever will 'mining' bitcoins.

Re:Funniest thing is... (4, Interesting)

SaroDarksbane (1784314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233126)

I assume you meant "than they ever will gain mining bitcoins."

If that's the case, it's hard to say what their expected ROI will be. I know that in my case, I already had a 5850 in my machine (a very good mining GPU) and thus, with a little bit of luck I've 'mined' 150 coins in a month. At the current exchange rate, those coins would we worth ~$1000 dollars if I cashed out now, and I really only paid for electricity. Depending on the hardware they bought, and when they started (the difficulty has really ramped up in the last couple weeks), they could be sitting on a nice payout, assuming they aren't dumb enough to try dumping them all onto the market at once.

For my part, I'm interested in bitcoins as a viable currency and not just as some bizarre experiment in cryptographic "stock" to dump when I need some extra spending cash, so I expect I'll be holding onto mine until I can get some actual goods with them.

(Also, I hate the term 'mining'. It's really more like 'accounting', but it's probably too late to change anything.)

mine bitcoins then grow pot? (5, Insightful)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232890)

So if you want to grow pot mine a bunch of bitcoins and get the police to inspect your house. Once that's done setup your grow operation, because the suspicion has been relieved?

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233054)

Or leave your AC on 65 for a month, or say you have SAD and have a ton of lights on in your house for months without pot.

Sort of an investment. But they may not do anything for months before hitting you.

It's odd because with LED and CFL grow lights it seems to me your power consumption should be 1/6th to 1/3rd what it used to be.

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233154)

> It's odd because with LED and CFL grow lights it seems to me your power consumption should be 1/6th to 1/3rd
> what it used to be.

I thought you couldn't get LED etc lights of the correct colour for growing plants indoors?

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233222)

RGB LEDs and PWM: any color is craftable. I'm no pot-grower, but I read a long time ago, that red-blue light is the best for increasing growth and yield. This was for a zero-g hydroponic garden, though, so it might not apply to marijuana...

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233416)

Plants care about the specific frequencies of light available, not the qualia as produced by the human trichromatic vision system.
A RGB system uses just three frequencies, with varying intensities for different colours.

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233256)

You want High Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide (depending on whether your in a growth of flowering phase) for the best results. They use a lot of power.

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233354)

I think that's why the discussion is about LEDs.

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (1)

noc007 (633443) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233286)

LEDs can be used, however they must emit certain frequencies of light in order to work. Most off the shelf LEDs won't work. IIRC, different stages in the grow cycle respond only certain frequencies; so it responds to one frequency at one stage and then a different frequency in another. There are LED light arrays that only do one frequency requiring you to either move the plants or the lights. There are other products that have LEDs that do all the needed frequencies.

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233180)

LED and CFL bulbs make for very poor grow lights. Growers who know what they are doing use high-pressure sodium and metal halide bulbs.

Re:mine bitcoins then grow pot? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233456)

So if you want to grow pot mine a bunch of bitcoins and get the police to inspect your house. Once that's done setup your grow operation, because the suspicion has been relieved?

You don't know small towns and you do not know cops.

The suspicion never goes away and the police will just wait you out, let you get comfortably settled in.

Has this actually happened? (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232946)

"Rumors floating around IRC" strikes me as somewhere between Fox News and Homeless Guy on Street Corner in terms of credibility. This is exactly the sort of story that someone would make up as a joke, and people would repeat as though it's real.

Re:Has this actually happened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233086)

*confused*

Which one is more credible?

Re:Has this actually happened? (1)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233088)

I assume that the spectrum goes:

Re:Has this actually happened? (0)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233106)

HTML ate my arrows. Grrr. less credible - fox news - Rumors floating around IRC - Homeless Guy on Street Corner - more credible

Re:Has this actually happened? (3, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233118)

I assumed it was made up by the Bitcoin guys to get them some more publicity and to make it look like people actually took them seriously.

Re:Has this actually happened? (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233396)

I assumed it was made up by the Bitcoin guys to get them some more publicity and to make it look like people actually took them seriously.

Considering this is the third or so story about Bitcoin, I'm guessing someone has hired a marketing firm/intern to get these stories out there.
That's the only real explanation for how these stories are getting planted around the web.

Re:Has this actually happened? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233138)

I honestly don't know of anywhere that allows city statues(bylaws) to trump provincial and federal legislation in Canada(there are a few exceptions for Toronto at the provincial level but that's it). Something isn't right in this story, and I think it's the entire thing. In Canada you need to have reasonable and probable grounds to get a warrant, power usage isn't enough for that. And I can't see some city trying to pull a 'safety inspection' pile of crap, being that any lawyer here will tell them off the bat that it's a charter violation to have something like that. Plus then there comes the question of legally obtaining the amount of power used, mining that information is a violation of the privacy act. And I'm pretty close to my up and up on case law here.

Yes BC has a serious problem with grow-ops, but they're pretty much to the point of being a soft crime. Meaning that people are fined for far less than in other parts of the country, and jail time is close to non-existent.

From the canuck angle? The article stinks of crap, nothing more nothing less.

Re:Has this actually happened? (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233210)

Yes BC has a serious problem with grow-ops

In what way are grow-ops a problem? The only possible problem I can conceive is that there aren't enough of them. I know that's not the case in BC.

Re:Has this actually happened? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233336)

You mean the man traps, electrical code violations caused by, bypassing mains, and cutting through everything in order to run ducting, and in turn causing structural damage? I guess none of those are problems.

Re:Has this actually happened? (2)

IshmaelDS (981095) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233308)

It is in fact a "safety inspection". I believe they do need a warrant to get into your home unless you let them in, I don't know if the would need extra evidence to get the warrant or not. here is a link. BCLocalNews [bclocalnews.com] . There is also a $5200 that can be charged to you regardless of if you have a grow op or not, though it is not always charged. here is another link Globe&Mail [theglobeandmail.com]

Re:Has this actually happened? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233386)

Warrants require more than 'excessive power usage' in Canada in order to get one. That's covered in case law. Doing a bit more searching(reason it wasn't in my latest journal is because it's still in the courts), there's actually a rather large class action suit going against several cities, and a couple of counties for charter violations for the use of this bylaw. Bylaws like this aren't legal here. You can't skirt the charter to get something done quicker(which is what they've done). And in order for that to be legal, this will end up all the way to the supreme court you can count on it. But the cities and counties will have to show that there's demonstrative harm to public safety, much like the s.1 exception for drinking and driving.

Re:Has this actually happened? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233362)

Yes BC has a serious problem with grow-ops, but they're pretty much to the point of being a soft crime.

Tell that to Marc Emery.

Re:Has this actually happened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233188)

"Rumors floating around IRC" strikes me as somewhere between Fox News and Homeless Guy on Street Corner in terms of credibility. This is exactly the sort of story that someone would make up as a joke, and people would repeat as though it's real.

Funny, that describes the credibility and worthiness of Bitcoin itself pretty accurately, too.

Re:Has this actually happened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233410)

This is exactly the sort of story that someone would make up as a joke, and people would repeat as though it's real.

Exactly. I can't say I've ever heard of someones @Home farm being raided because of the electricity use, and some people go nuts with setups for that.

Shenanigans?

Bitcoins as currency (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232948)

So I watched the little video in the article but I don't understand why or how anyone would accept bitcoins as currency. Can anyone explain to me how running an application on your computer to 'make' currency produces anything of value?

Re:Bitcoins as currency (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233034)

Apparently if you run a social network application on your computer it makes you worth 50 billion dollars.

Re:Bitcoins as currency (5, Informative)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233102)

It is a scam. The bitcoin production difficulty is exponential, so the first few people who designed the system easily produced a big percentage of the total possible bitcoins (Over 6 million out of the total 21 million scheduled to be produced until the year 2140 are already taken) and now they are doing everything they can to give them value. So, those that "accept" bitcoins as currency are those that have a vested interest in them gaining value.
Basically you are using more and more power for the chance to produce a virtual "coin", so you are not producing value, just hurting the environment and if enough stupid people follow your example you will make a few scammers rich.

Re:Bitcoins as currency (0)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233202)

I don't see why an initial 'gold rush' leads to the conclusion that it's a scam - sure, the first guys are getting rich, but that doesn't necessarily imply anything negative about the currency once it does stabilise somewhat, as far as I can see.

Re:Bitcoins as currency (3, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233114)

As I understand it, the process doesn't create anything of inherent value, but it serves to limit supply - same way that gold is difficult to find and mine, is of limited industrial use (and thus limited intrinsic value), and tends to just sit around in vaults once it's been refined, but is still traded and invested in.

The key difference, of course, is that the value of gold has more 'inertia' since there are far, far more people who buy into the notion that gold has value. Bitcoin is pretty volatile because there are far fewer people with a vested interest (in the most literal sense of the term) in its maintained value, and because people find it easier to accept the value of a shiny metal with thousands of years of history than that of a cryptographically signed set of data.

Re:Bitcoins as currency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233272)

is of limited industrial use (and thus limited intrinsic value)

Gold is handy for jewellery, electrical contacts and, of course, killing Cybermen.

Re:Bitcoins as currency (1)

SaroDarksbane (1784314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233208)

So I watched the little video in the article but I don't understand why or how anyone would accept bitcoins as currency. Can anyone explain to me how running an application on your computer to 'make' currency produces anything of value?

It's not so much that you "make" currency, as it is that the system rewards you for utilizing your computer to do the accounting work for the Bitcoin system. Currently, this reward system is in the form of a payout that steadily decreases as time goes on, to be gradually replaced by voluntary transaction fees that people can pay to have their accounting done first.

People make a big deal about the early adopters having a large advantage over later adopters, but really the system of initial currency distribution for Bitcoins is still much better than that of the dollar, where the government prints them all and then spends them all. At least with Bitcoins, the early adopters only have an advantage once (until they spend their coins). The US government can print to its heart's content with no end in sight.

So if Bitcoin is a scam, it's less of a scam than the US dollar (although that might not be saying much).

Re:Bitcoins as currency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233224)

The only reason you trust the dollar is because the US government backs it. Why do you trust the US government? It is a stable democracy that is unlikely to fold. The same is true for bitcoins. They can only be mined at a certain rate. Thus unlike the US dollar you won't see the same issues you would in the bitcoin economy. I'd accept bitcoins because I can get the money out of the system when I want to purchase stuff from sellers who don't accept it. As a seller I want to accept it because it saves me 3%-%4 vs accepting credit cards.

Re:Bitcoins as currency (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233248)

The same way running a press to 'make' currency produces anything of value. It doesn't. The machine makes the item, but the value comes from us.

Re:Bitcoins as currency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233318)

The generation of new coins is a temporary side effect meant to provide a semi-fair way to initially distribute the currency. The real purpose is processing transactions. See http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.

Advertisements are out of hand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232960)

Done with /.

That *is* a pretty high amount of power (0, Troll)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232964)

The average US home uses about 30kWh per day. Checking on people using triple that amount seems reasonable. I wouldn't justify a search warrant, or even a subpoena, but sending an officer to politely ask a few questions would be reasonable.

Re:That *is* a pretty high amount of power (2)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233214)

Why should the police be involved?

Though not surprising to see such comment ... many people have become conditioned to the police state and not fully aware of how omnipresent it is around them.

Seems to me the only people who should be asking questions, if anyone, regarding 3X average household usage would be the power utility to ensure the customer is aware of it and is able to pay.

And perhaps, especially in older developments / rural areas, sending out a utility tech to verify the drop and transformer are up to the task - likely there's going to be plenty of extra capacity available and hence no issues.

Ron

Re:That *is* a pretty high amount of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233282)

This post, especially given the context of TFA, is one of the more depressing, discouraging, and disheartening things I've read on the internet in quite some time.

Anyone who pays for extra juice, eh? An electric furnace, a home business -- heck, even some hobby project -- are "reasonable" grounds for "a few polite questions." Awesome. And will refusal to answer these polite questions then be grounds for a warrant?

Re:That *is* a pretty high amount of power (1)

agm (467017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233342)

Why? So long as they pay their power bill what's the problem?

Re:That *is* a pretty high amount of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233438)

>> 30kWh per day

Holy kilowatts, Batman! I thought you slipped a digit, but you're right [doe.gov] !

WTF are people doing, leaving their hair-drier on while they're at work? My wife and I both work from home and we use a quarter of that.

Nice side effect to come? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232968)

Seems to me as these "probable cause based on power usage" continue and more and more intrusions of this nature should lead to law suits against the police and hopefully disallowing power use as a criteria for determining probable cause. That's a bullshit way of doing law enforcement. I run a server at my home. I'll be damned if I am going to sit idle if I were to have a search warrant against me based on stupid crap like that.

Re:Nice side effect to come? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233186)

I'll be damned if I am going to sit idle if I were to have a search warrant against me based on stupid crap like that.

I doubt you'll be "sitting" anywhere, as it's tough to do after you've been tased and had a broomstick shoved up your ass. Also, how will you pay for the lawsuit after they take everything you own and all your bank accounts with civil forfeiture?

Another nail in the coffin for solar energy. (5, Interesting)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233022)

Great, just great. I can see the calls for banning solar energy technology since it allows drug lords to escape detection via electric meters.

Just imagine the rhetoric: "Only pot-farmers use solar energy." "Support HB123 to place export controls on drug energy technology to Mexico!" "Off grid, on drugs!" "Tell the police if your neighbor has gone wireless!"

Re:Another nail in the coffin for solar energy. (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233194)

Great, just great. I can see the calls for banning solar energy technology since it allows drug lords to escape detection via electric meters.

Entirely possible, but in most areas I'd simply go for extensive sun-roofs instead. Solar-electric panels are expensive. The install costs for a sun-roof might be higher, but the panels/windows are a lot cheaper, even if you can only get sun for half the day that way.

Great place to grow pot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233032)

Just watch the meter. Now you know not to use more that 92kWh/day you can safely grow pot.

BTW, that's about 250 CFL's (15W), so keep the number down under about 200, you should be OK.

Re:Great place to grow pot. (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233122)

My question, as I have never done a grow room... what keeps a pot farm from actually getting their electricity from after the meter?

If they just cut a connection before the meter and manage to hide it, there are no power worries whatsoever. Cheaper utility bills to boot as well.

Re:Great place to grow pot. (1)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233184)

Probably because electricity is dangerous and if you know how to safely tap in, then you can find a better job than growing drugs. Or the ones that do it don't get caught and published in the news.

Re:Great place to grow pot. (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233230)

If they just cut a connection before the meter and manage to hide it, there are no power worries whatsoever. Cheaper utility bills to boot as well.

It's harder to do than you might think. The utility owns and reserves the right to inspect any/all wiring before the meter, and they DO have meters upstream. If the upstream meter is reporting more consumption than normal compared to the sub-meter consumption, they know something is up - either they have a short or somebody is stealing electricity. Then they have various means of testing individual homes.to determine the culprit.

Plus, it's dangerous to be choppng into live 200-400 amp 240V wires.

Re:Great place to grow pot. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233284)

Nothing, it happens all the time. But eventually, someone will notice the splice.

Re:Great place to grow pot. (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233398)

This topic came up several days ago in another thread on here ... another poster pointed out that often it's not the amount one steals that gets one caught, but rather unbalanced loads.

Regardless of whether one is paying or not, it's always important to balance the load between both 120v legs ... electricians when installing / upgrading a panel will stagger breakers so that both 120v legs are tapped roughly equally (not by the number of breakers, but rather in regards to expected loads).

On a related note, it's often greed that gets people caught - the utility is definitely going to notice, and will investigate, if one's average usage substantially drops to near zero - that's often a sure sign of wire problems and/or meter being bypassed.

Ron

Re:Great place to grow pot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233428)

This is a common tactic. It is something to look for when buying a new home as it is evidence of a fairly large scale grow op (nobody goes to the danger and trouble for something small, which wouldn't be detected anyway). I suspect it was less common before law enforcement started using electric bills to find grow ops though.

Re:Great place to grow pot. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233380)

HID lamps (high pressure sodium or metal halide) yield more lumens per watt than fluorescents. Google tells me quickly that cannabis requires around 50 watts per square foot.

92kWh/day = 3800 W or 76 square feet of growing space, assuming all the power goes towards lighting. Again Google tells me that Cannabis yields about .5 oz/square foot estimated generously.

That figures to 38 oz per grow cycle. Let's say it's really primo buds sold at a festival for $50/eighth or $400 an oz. Ridiculous prices, but people do pay them for high quality stuff. Then you're looking at $7600
per flowering cycle.

At 8 weeks per flowering cycle, there's 6 flowering cycles per year. That nets you a maximum of $45,600 per year. That will have to cover everything from food to water to nutrients to power.

Electric car owners, onto the barricades! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233090)

Proletarians of the world, unite! Electric car owners, bitcoin miners - join us in the struggle! Anarchy for the win! Nobody is free until everybody is free!

Re:Electric car owners, onto the barricades! (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233262)

Anarchy? Then don't tell me what to do!

More Bitcoin? Seriously? (3, Insightful)

mothlos (832302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233142)

Three Bitcoin articles on the front page in as many weeks? Sure, this one is a bit sideways, but seriously, the number of people involved with Bitcoin is insignificantly small and should remain that way. Stop hyping this project which is either an ill-fated experiment or a scam.

Ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233152)

The whole article is an Ad. It didn't have to go into detail about Bitcoin and make it sound exciting. Just say lots of computers in home doing stupid stuff raise pot op suspicion

Waste (2)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233156)

Someone needs to tell Julian and Ricky that they can cover their pot growing operation with servers. Cops bust in see the servers and never look for the pot. Of couse I doubt that anyone would be competent to set up the serves. Maybe J-Roc.

But seriously, this is the kind of thing that has really killed the world. Here we have a weed that is one of the most perfect and useful plants in existence. Because of fundamentalist faith based lawmaking and general greed it is banned for most purposes. Of course some would say that it damages kids, but how about the legal drugs? The Pfizer commercials tells kids they can only be happy with drugs. Someone like Rush Limbaugh can afford to be a prescription drug addict, and maybe old people in the US with medicare part D, but the average person has to go with the unregulated stuff. It would be nice if kids were not told that drug use is good, and I certainly believe that drug use in general is a losing game, but there we have it. Corporate drugs good, plants are bad.

On top of the insanity of jailing people for growing plants or using plants simply because that plant has not been awarded the special corporate status of tabacco, is just the beginning. So we now have these indoor operation using huge amounts of dirty power that contributes god knows how much to global warming, killing the future even for the kids that aren't addicted to Zoloft. All this waste because growers are forced indoors. Of course in canada part of the problem is the short growing season, but really, it is arguable that the time of the police would be better spent arresting doctors for frivolously doping kids so that they don't annoy their parents.

Re:Waste (1)

zanian (1621285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233302)

Don't worry, Ricky and Julian have their methods. For example, the hash driveway.

Fake Story (2)

diablo-d3 (175104) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233216)

I'm going to repeat the comment I made on the Time story covering this [time.com] 2 hours ago:

I hate to tell you, but it never happened. This is an AMD TV commercial (available on Youtube [youtube.com] ) saying, basically, run Nvidia and get raided for running a pot growing operation due to excessive power usage.

Oh, and a side note, in the US, the power companies DO regularly report users with sudden spikes of excessive power usage that are indicative of grow ops. This data is volunteered by the power companies, and the police do not need a warrant to collect it.

This is all based off of claims from IRC (1)

harks (534599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233252)

I can't remember exactly where, but someone suggested that this might be a possibility on one of the Bitcoin forums. A day later, someone said in an IRC channel that they had been raided. I'm pretty sure they made it up based on the previous day's speculation. And now a website has picked up the IRC claim, and now Slashdot picks up that website's claim. As far as I can tell there's no backing that this supposed drug bust ever happened, but it's pyramiding into bigger and bigger news based on nothing.

I don't know about the Bitcoin connection... (5, Informative)

squeegee_boy (319210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233288)

...but the grow-op "inspections" in Mission, B.C. are quite real:

Article [theglobeandmail.com]

It's an attempted end-run around obtaining a search warrant, which would require more than just higher than average power consumption. The way it works is the municipality sends a bylaw inspector to a home for a "safety inspection" after someone notices that the power consumption at the residence is higher than it should be.

The inspector can't force his way in, but a bit of bullying and a stern "What have you got to hide?" or "I'll come back with a warrant and make your week difficult" is often all that's necessary, especially if the homeowner in question isn't actually doing anything wrong, and isn't used to dealing with stuff like this. The inspector brings along a police escort for "safety and security." Convenient.

The inspector looks around, and if he finds a grow op, well, hey, lookee here, the police just happened to be down the hall! Now they don't need a search warrant because it wasn't "a police search."

If the inspector finds nothing illegal, he (often but not always) presents the homeowner in question with a bill for the inspection, which can range from $5k to $10k.

Good news though: A few days ago, the BC Supreme Court has issued a giant "fark you" to the practice:

Article [theglobeandmail.com]

Useless Eaters!! (2)

hackus (159037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233392)

You should only have enough electricity for your Television to watch IDOL, FOX and CNN and that is all!!

Anything more and you are a terrorist!!!!

We will send the TSA immediately into your home to grab your balls, your breasts or open your kids diapers!!!!

That will show everyone that we just need to keep people safe to stop these terrorists!!!

Mr. Goldstein is _everywhere_ but with your sacrifices we _WILL_ _GET_ _HIM_!!!

Report anything you see to your local threat fusion center immediately!!!

Keep an eye on your neighbors so we can keep you safe!

-DHS

You just wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233434)

Now people will be growing pot inside computer cases. lol

Kinda wondering (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233444)

Does the return on bitcoin mining equal or better the return on stock in the local utility? In the US, many utility stocks yield 5%. There's always some risk of the stock going down, but computer equipment is guaranteed to depreciate.

As with any money-making scheme, "show me the numbers".

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