UK’s First Bitcoin Armed Robbery

Photo courtesy of UK’s metro shows the couple’s four-bedroom home where they were held at gunpoint by armed robbers.
Photo courtesy of UK’s metro shows the couple’s four-bedroom home where they were held at gunpoint by armed robbers.
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UK’s First Bitcoin Armed Robbery

Photo courtesy of UK’s metro shows the couple’s four-bedroom home where they were held at gunpoint by armed robbers.
Photo courtesy of UK’s metro shows the couple’s four-bedroom home where they were held at gunpoint by armed robbers.

Armed robbers have raided the house of a British virtual currency trader, forcing him to transfer Bitcoins after tying up his wife and threatening him with a gun, British media reported on Monday.

The robbery happened on January 22 at the couple's home in the village of Moulsford in southeast England, according to the Daily Mail, which said the cryptocurrency crime was the first of its kind.

Four robbers wearing balaclavas broke into the house of Danny Aston, 30, and his wife Amy Jay, 31.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman quoted by the Daily Telegraph said only that police were investigating an "aggravated burglary" in Moulsford last week and that the occupants of the house had been "threatened".

No arrests have been made but the reports said that Aston may have been targeted because of his high profile in the cryptocurrency community.

According to company registry records, Aston and Jay are directors of Aston Digital Currencies, which specializes in managing virtual currency portfolios.

The firm was created in June 2017 at a time when Bitcoin was trading at around 2,500 euros.

It has since risen sharply to a peak of 16,323 euros on December 17 before falling back below 10,000 euros.

The Sun quoted a neighbor as saying that the couple had gone into hiding at a secret address after the terrifying raid.

Using a pseudonym, Aston has carried out more than 100,000 transactions with 16,375 partners.

Some of them referred to him online using his real name, which may have led robbers directly to him.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code that allows anonymous transactions. Unlike a real-world unit such as the US dollar or euro, it has no central bank and is not backed by any government.



North Macedonia's Beekeepers Face Climate Change Challenge

Petroski has for 13 years spent his free time caring for 120 beehives. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Petroski has for 13 years spent his free time caring for 120 beehives. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
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North Macedonia's Beekeepers Face Climate Change Challenge

Petroski has for 13 years spent his free time caring for 120 beehives. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Petroski has for 13 years spent his free time caring for 120 beehives. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Every day, Magda Miloseska dons a white, protective suit and enters the domain of the honeybees in the backyard of her small weekend house in North Macedonia.
She has been producing honey in this picturesque corner of the country for more than 20 years. But climate change and disease have made what used to be a simple pleasure much harder work, she says.
Stence is a hillside village in the west of the country, surrounded by mountains and at a level of 650 meters (2,130 feet). Temperatures in June already exceed 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), three-degrees higher than usual, according to the state meteorological office.
"In the past, beekeeping was much easier," said 63-year-old Miloseska. "Beekeeping was a treat.
"Now, we simply have to fight both the climate conditions and the diseases that have entered the beekeeping."
Just a hobby for some, but a source of income for others, beekeeping has surged in recent years in all regions of the country, said AFP.
There were 6,900 beekeepers with 306,000 beehives registered across the country in 2023, according to the Food and Veterinary Agency.
But according to a European Commission study issued in July 2023, 10 percent of bees and butterflies are threatened with extinction in Europe -- largely due to human activities.
Honey production down
Miloseska may not have the data at her fingertips, but her everyday experience has made it clear to her something is wrong.
"Older beekeepers say that in the past they could get 30-50 kilograms (44-66 pounds) of honey from one beehive," she said.
"In this period, with these climate conditions, that is substantially decreased."
Today, in ideal conditions, the most you could hope for would be around 30 kilograms over one season, she added -- with average production between 10 and 20 kilos.
That relative scarcity has pushed prices up to between 15 and 20 euros ($16-22) compared to 10 euros just two or three years ago.
Vladimir Petroski, who for the past 13 years has spent his free time caring for 120 beehives, has noted the same problem.
Whereas in the past they could expect 30-40 kilograms, he said, these days they had to be satisfied with 15 kilos per season.
And he agreed that climate change had fueled the rise of the parasites and viruses that threaten wild and honey bees.
"Beekeepers need to educate themselves and adapt according to the conditions and the micro-climate where they work."
Educate and adapt
In fact, the beekeepers are already trying to find solutions themselves.
Their hive mind is made up of the regional beekeepers' associations, which promote good practice and organize honey festivals.
They agree the main challenges are the warm winters, swift changes of the temperature in spring -- and the long, dry periods that come with summer now stretching into September and October.
Environmental groups have called for government ministries and agencies to coordinate to tackle the problems that climate change pose for bees.
So far however, they say their warnings have gone largely unheeded.
The agriculture ministry is just as concerned about intensive agriculture, pesticides, loss of diversity and pollution.
While acknowledging the threat climate change poses, it has simply recommended closer monitoring of the bees' behavior.
More data is certainly needed, says Frosina Pandurska Dramikjanin of the Macedonian Ecological Society, part of a project trying to understand the effect of climate change on bees.
But it also needs to be share between the relevant state institutions, she argued.
Without that, she told AFP, "it is harder to issue measures and recommendations".
A recent report from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) underlined the stakes, highlighting the key role bees play in food production and biodiversity.
Out of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of all food consumed worldwide, 71 are pollinated by bees, it reported.