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Thousands of unsterilized dental implants have been stolen from the Adin Dental Implant Systems factory near Afula and are believed to be on their way to the West Bank to be sold or smuggled abroad.

The implants, worth an estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars, have not been sterilized and are dangerous for use, Adin representatives said Wednesday.

The burglars bypassed the security system in the factory, located in the Alon Tavor industrial park near Afula, and took thousands of dental implants and related components Friday night.

"I'm not young, I've seen a lot of things," said Adin vice president Ami Hantman. "But I never believed our plant would be burgled."

An Afula police officer said this was no ordinary robbery.

"This is something unique. It's not another stolen television set," said Afula police commander Yossi Sharvit.

"A similar burglary was carried out in the past year in the central region and we're checking whether there's a connections between the cases. It is clear that those who broke into the plant knew exactly what they were stealing."

Police expect the burglars to attempt to sell the stolen implants in the West Bank or smuggle them overseas.

However, the process of preparing the implants for use, which includes sterilization, has not been completed.

"The implants cannot be used," said Adin managing director Eyal Milman. "Maybe there are doctors who could complete the process in laboratories, but it would cause damage that could endanger the patient."

"An Israeli dentist would not use this merchandise," he said.

Milman said dentists should watch out for sales of dental implants for a suspiciously low price, especially if the sales merchants are not affiliated with Adin.

Israel has the largest implant market in the world in proportion to its population, and the country's implant market is profitable, said Milman.

"In Israel there are 400 implants for every 10,000 people, while in the United States, for example, there are only 50 implants per 10,000 people," he said.

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root replacement and is used in prosthetic dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth.

The most widely used implant today is the osseointegrated implant, based on a titanium blade that is implanted into the jawbone, on which pins are mounted as a base for crowns.