A couple who returned from a trip to the mainland yesterday were arrested for leaving five of their six children alone at their Shau Kei Wan home.
The couple were detained when they went to visit their five daughters - the youngest of them six and the eldest 15 - who had been placed in the care of social workers.
Police said the couple were being investigated for ill-treatment and neglect of children. The father, who is 78, and the mother, 45 and surnamed Wong, were each released on HK$100 bail and should report to police at the end of the month.
The couple's other child, a boy aged three, has also been put in the care of social workers. All the children are being cared for by the Po Leung Kuk charity.
A police source said the parents left their daughters at home and took their youngest child to the mainland for the grave-sweeping festival.
The case came to light on Tuesday when one girl, nine, was caught shoplifting sweets at a supermarket near their home on the Oi Tung Estate. Police took the girl home and discovered she and her sisters had been left alone.
The Social Welfare Department is following up the case. A spokesman said: 'We will try to contact the parents to see what we can do for the family.'