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Where stolen cars are being dumped and who’s behind the recovery efforts

DAVENPORT-- Hotels, shopping malls and apartment parking lots have become the dumping grounds for stolen cars in the Quad Cities area. And there's one Iowa State Trooper specifically assigned to finding them. In the Quad Cities and the 22 counties surrounding it in Iowa, that task is for Trooper Dustin Henningsen.

Always typing, always looking, Trooper Henningsen is one of three troopers in the whole state of Iowa to search for stolen cars manually. Today he's specifically looking for a red Kia Optima that the Davenport Police Department listed as stolen.

The method is to sit in a parking lot and scan every single license plate. He types in each plate into his computer system. Seconds later the system tells him if the car is stolen or not. He checks about 300 to 400 plates a day, and he finds about one a week.

"My last three years, it's really picked up, a huge increase in auto thefts," says Trooper Henningsen.

His time entering each plate pays off most often in Davenport. On Monday, that's where he finds that red stolen Kia. His system gives him back a license plate hit, and the owner is called.

In this case, the car was stolen just a few blocks away from where it was found, right off of Kimberly Road in an apartment complex parking lot.

The things inside that don't belong like the miscellaneous lawn care equipment and a pair of glasses now become evidence.

"We'll move a few items to make sure there's no weapons or anything," says Trooper Henningsen as he processes the stolen car.

Hopefully the findings on Monday will link the theft with the thief.

"Unfortunately it's a changing world and time. For the most part the good old days are behind us," says Trooper Henningsen.

After sorting through hundreds of cars to find this p[articular one, the meticulous search goes down as a success.

Trooper Henningsen covers counties as far north as Dubuque and as south as Missouri.

He doesn't only recover cars stolen here locally. Just last month he found a car that had been stolen by a Kansas man wanted for murder in a Davenport motel parking lot near Interstate 80.