msnbc.com
updated 2/9/2011 3:46:57 PM ET 2011-02-09T20:46:57

Police are investigating the disappearance of a shipment of more than 700,000 ultrathin condoms destined for Japan, with officials saying it’s not a stretch to suspect an inside job.

Condom-maker Sagami Rubber Industries of Japan said 85,000 boxes of its top-selling polyurethane products were loaded into a locked container at its factory in northern Malaysia. But the container was empty and the locks had been replaced when it arrived in Tokyo last week.

Sagami officials filed a police report over the lost shipment, AFP reported.

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"We are unhappy over the incident. This is the first time such a thing has happened since our Malaysian production started in 1997," said Sato Koji, manager of the Sagami factory in Malaysia's Perak state, according to AFP.

"We take the matter of the missing condoms very seriously ... we are investigating the matter," AFP quoted a Malaysian police spokesman as saying.

Perak commercial crimes chief Supt. Amarjit Singh told The Malaysian Insider on Wednesday that it is working with the Japanese company to determine what happened.

“There is no indication if it went missing in Malaysia or elsewhere,” he told the Insider.

The consignment was shipped from Ipoh, the capital of Perak state, to Port Klang, Malaysia's busiest port, where it had been stored for several days before being sent to Japan, Singh said.

He added that the police were still trying to find out if the cargo ship had stopped at other ports before reaching Japan.

Walter Cullas, the head of the Air Freight Forwarders Association, says records will help authorities determine where the condoms disappeared.

"There are locks, seals and checklists provided by freight forwarders and shipping lines for every part of the journey from factory to destination so it is very easy to find out where and when they were tampered with or changed," Cullas said, according to AFP.

Sagami officials estimate the condoms to be worth nearly $1.5 million on the Japanese retail market, according to media reports.

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