On Tuesday morning, three men entered the offices of a Bitcoin exchange—an online marketplace where people buy and sell cryptocurrencies—in Ottawa, Ontario, armed with handguns.On that below-zero morning in Canada’s capital, police say, the intruders bound four employees and struck one in the head with a handgun before leaving empty-handed. A fifth employee in another room called the police.“The suspects tried to coerce the employees of the business to complete a transaction,” Ottawa Police Sgt. Michael Haarbosch told me over the phone.
One suspect fled into a ravine and police searched the area with dogs and guns drawn, according to the CBC. Police arrested 19-year-old Jimmy St-Hilaire, and are now on the hunt for the two remaining suspects. Officers are still searching the area.
Police declined to name the business or describe it as anything more than a “Bitcoin related financial institution,” but an exchange called Canadian Bitcoins lists its physical address as being in the immediate area of the robbery, which was identified by police. A spokesperson for Canadian Bitcoins confirmed that their offices were targeted on Tuesday over email.“Yesterday, there was an attempted robbery at our office in Ottawa,” the spokesperson wrote. “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.”Exchanges like Canadian Bitcoins are online marketplaces where cryptocurrencies are bought and sold, and often keep funds in reserve.Cryptocurrency robberies are a new and troubling trend. Last year, New York City resident Louis Meza allegedly kidnapped a friend and stole $1.8 million worth of ether, the Ethereum platform’s cryptocurrency. In another 2017 incident, an executive at a UK-based cryptocurrency exchange was briefly kidnapped in Ukraine.The prices of cryptocurrencies across the board are continuing to rise, and so are the stakes for criminals and law-abiding HODLers alike.Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter .