A British man has been forced to hand over Bitcoin (BTC) at gunpoint in what is the first armed cryptocurrency theft in the country, say reports. Danny Aston, 30, called the police to his home in Moulsford, Oxfordshire, at 9:40 am GMT on Monday after four masked robbers forced entry.
The robbers reportedly demanded that Mr. Aston, an ex-financier-turned-Bitcoin-trader, transfer an unknown amount of Bitcoin to them before leaving the scene. No-one was injured in the event. Though the exact amount transferred has not been specified, it could be very large due to the nature of Mr. Aston’s work which involves his company: Aston Digital Currencies Ltd.
One mother told British newspaper The Mail on Sunday that she saw “Four young men in black tracksuits” approach Mr. Ashton’s property that day. Shortly after the incident, a local school was temporarily placed on lockdown as a police helicopter scoured the area, according to the Daily Mail. Thames Valley Police are asking for witnesses to come forward to aid in the thieves’ arrest, which will surely prove to be a challenge since Bitcoin is designed to be untraceable.
Though this news is unprecedented in the UK, and especially in a small Oxfordshire town, it is not the first time that an armed cryptocurrency heist has taken place. Canadian police are searching for two suspects involved in a cryptocurrency exchange robbery on Tuesday 23rd January. Three people, armed with handguns, stormed the offices of Canadian Bitcoins in Ottawa, Ontario, in an attempt to force employees to transfer funds. The suspects fled, and one of them caught, after police were called by an employee who remained hidden, said CBC news. It is not clear whether the suspects wanted Bitcoin specifically, regular funds transferred, or physical cash.
The prospect of increasing cryptocurrency crime, especially physical robberies, won’t do much to inhibit the swathes of regulatory action being implemented by governments around the world. China, South Korea, France, and Russia are all mulling over ways to control the growing phenomenon of digital currency, and this is having a negative impact on market prices. Plus, with most cryptocurrencies being pretty much untraceable, police forces are going to have to reconsider the way they approach the issue.
If you are in the UK and have any information you can call Thames Valley Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you have any information on the Ottawa robbery, call the robbery unit on 613-236-1222 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1-800-222-8477.
Featured image: Caribbean National Weekly