A Girl Scouts council has sued 10 parents, alleging they kept more than $8,000 from cookie sales.

The Drifting Dunes Girl Scout Council filed civil lawsuits Monday in small claims courts in Porter and Lake counties, alleging scout parents kept cookie money in 2004 and 2005. Claims for individual parents range from $500 to more than $1,400.

Parents have kept cookie sales money in past years, but the problem is getting worse, said council CEO Marlene Cosby.

"Increasingly we are seeing larger sums of money being held and no attempts to pay the money back," Cosby said.

The group's attorney Patrick Lyp said the council had debts of about $19,000 in 2004 and of more than $20,000 in 2005, primarily because of missing cookie money.

The lawsuits against parents who owe significant amounts could help deter others from keeping cookie money, scout officials said.

The Girl Scouts of Calumet Council filed similar lawsuits two years ago against parents who did not turn in cookie sales money, with claims ranging from $500 to $3,000.

Calumet Council CEO Gloria Romero-Hutchinson said the lawsuits worked, as the group has not had to file any since 2004.

"It's one of these things you hate to do," Romero-Hutchinson said. "We sent the message to let parents know that this is serious. We do take action."