Six alleged members of a gang of pickpockets who preyed on tourists around the Mongkok KCR station were remanded in custody yesterday. In Eastern Court, magistrate Lambert Lee Ka-chai adjourned the case until May 14 for mention in North Kowloon Court, pending identification parades and further police inquiries. The alleged pickpocketing offences had been spotted by police officers and captured by closed-circuit television cameras in the KCR station. All the victims were from overseas and police had to arrange for them to return to Hong Kong to attend an identification parade, the court heard. Chan Kim-wah, 43, Lee Wing-cheong, 47, Cheung Wai, 50, Fung Chun-keung, 49, Au Chi-wah, 48 and Ng Mau-luen, 48, face multiple charges of theft and attempted theft. The charges relate to incidents at the station between February 19 and April 2. Chan and Lee are also accused of stealing a woman's wallet on the escalator of Grand Century Place in Prince Edward Road West, Mongkok, on April 7. Some of the offences were committed with unknown accomplices, the court heard. The defendants were not required to enter pleas. Meanwhile, police said two mainlanders would be charged with trying to steal a mobile phone yesterday from the backpack of a woman in Great George Street, Causeway Bay. The men, two-way permit holders aged 41 and 43, were arrested by plain-clothes detectives who noticed them acting suspiciously outside Sogo department store during an anti-crime operation in the busy shopping district at around 1pm. A police spokesman said the two suspects were seen following the woman and one of them unzipped her backpack. Yesterday's operation was part of increased efforts by police to bring down the rising number of pickpocketing cases. There were 1,681 such cases last year, nearly double the 859 cases in 2002. Police received 387 reports of pickpocketing in the first two months of this year. About a tenth of cases last year took place on MTR lines.