TOKYO -- Thieves stole 180 Sony PlayStation 3 video game consoles from a warehouse in northern Japan on Tuesday following the sellout launch of the console last month, police said.

Transport company Meitetsu Golden Air Cargo left a shipment of PS3 consoles stacked in front of a warehouse and had planned to ship them to a retailer.

But a worker noticed about four hours later that 180 of the consoles were missing, according to a policeman who gave only his family name, Iwabuchi.

Police were investigating the theft, he said.

Sony Corp.'s PS3 hit Japanese stores on Nov. 11. The consoles sold out quickly to eager fans who had waited in long lines overnight. Its debut in the U.S. a week later was marked by rowdy crowds and store stampedes.