SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -

Spokane County Sheriff's deputies are searching for a group of thieves who have been stealing rent payments from apartment complex drop boxes in Spokane Valley.

At the Eagle Pointe Apartments, located in the 2700 block of N. Bowdish Road in Spokane Valley, tenants use a drop box to get their rent into the manager's office. Unfortunately thieves have figured out a way to fish those payments back out.

Managers at the Eagle Pointe apartment complex unlocked the lockbox to collect rent payments for September and found a sticky mess inside.

"I had reached in there and had about seven or eight different checks all stuck together with something a little gooey," Riley Ludwig with Eagle Pointe Apartments said.

With something similar to glue, someone had spent several nights fishing checks and money orders out of 18 different apartment complex drop boxes.

"Obviously a huge investigation; multiple victims and more than likely there are a slough of different suspect involved in this," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

The thieves dumped personal checks in the nearby bushes but kept the money orders used by tenants who don't have checking accounts. So far the crooks have taken renters for more that $35,000 and most of the money orders have been cashed in Las Vegas.

"It's very common for us when we have these big investigations that encompasses so many victims that we have suspects who are not in this area," Chamberlin said.

Some apartment complexes have switched over to more secure drop boxes that have a fishing proof trap door while others have been forced to abandon their drop boxes altogether.

As for the owners of Eagle Pointe, they decided the people who could prove they put their money orders in the drop box have decided to accept the loss of those rent payments.