It’s late Friday morning and Boston’s busiest parking-ticket writer is on the move.
“This car has been here over two hours,” says Ildo Rosario, eyeing a Ford pickup in the Financial District. Though there’s still time on the meter, it’s been sitting there past the two-hour limit.
Within seconds, Rosario has tapped a few buttons on his hand-held computer, printed out a ticket, and tucked it under a windshield wiper.
Rosario is just warming up. After turning the corner, he tickets car after car for failing to feed the meter or exceeding the two-hour limit. A black Ford with a speciality license plate for Patriots fans, a silver Honda, a black Kia — Rosario quickly tags them all.
No one issues as many parking tickets in Boston as Rosario, according to a Globe analysis of 6.8 million citations. In the last five years, he has issued more than 96,000 tickets. That works out to an average of 100 every day he handed out tickets, or nearly one every five minutes over an eight-hour work shift.
Surprisingly, both the city and Rosario said they had no idea he gave out the most tickets during that span. His efforts generated $3.5 million in tickets, returning a profit for Boston far above his $50,693 annual salary.
“I am just trying to enforce the rules,” said Rosario, 38, who has worked for the city Transportation Department’s parking enforcement section for more than 12 years. “I am a hard worker.”
Rosario, a soft-spoken Cape Verdean immigrant, is a foot soldier in Boston’s parking wars, where drivers often circle endlessly looking for an open space and ticket writers like him are searching for motorists violating the rules.
Only one colleague is even close to Rosario in the number of tickets issued over the last five years: Brian Politano, another 12-year department veteran. And Rosario bested him by nearly 4,000 tickets.
The other 150 or so parking-meter enforcement agents lag far behind, averaging half as many tickets per year.
The department said it doesn’t have any quotas or offer bonuses for issuing more tickets, so there’s no financial incentive.
And Rosario insists he doesn’t pull any dirty tricks to boost his ticket tallies.
He says he tries to give people at least an extra 10 minutes after they exceed the two-hour limit. And if people are with the vehicle, he gives them a chance to move the car.
“I work with people,” he said. “I always let them know.”
Boston parking officials said they couldn’t find any complaints about Rosario from the public. The only letter in his personnel file is from a woman praising Rosario for helping her when she locked her keys in the car. Rosario called a tow truck and waited for it to arrive.
“He obviously does a very good job,” said Greg Rooney, director of enforcement for the Transportation Department. “He is the model of professionalism.”
And as he walked his beat with a reporter one day last month, Rosario repeatedly nudged people along instead of giving them a ticket — so long as they were with their car.
“You’ve got to find another place to park,” he tells the driver of a blue moving van. “You can’t park in front of a hydrant.”
Rosario’s secret weapon seems to be that he moves fast — deftly hitting the keys on his computer and meticulously keeping track of vehicles that stay longer than the time allowed. He enters registration plates into the device as he walks by, and checks to see whether vehicles are still there more than two hours later.
By walking quickly, Rosario can make many more sweeps through his route, boosting the chance he’ll spot someone at an expired meter or staying too long in one spot. In most cases, he can also write a second ticket for the same violation if a vehicle hasn’t moved after six hours.
And some days he spots violations everywhere.
Rosario wrote 219 tickets on April 1 around Mission Hill, as many people seemed caught off guard by the start of street sweeping and failed to move their cars in time.
Good luck to a motorist trying to avoid Rosario. He says he switches routes every month, so you can’t simply avoid his turf.
His best advice to avoid getting a ticket: Read the signs carefully and follow the rules.
“If the sign says ‘two hours,’ make sure you are back in two hours,” Rosario said.