MIAMI -

A Coral Gables officer was caught parking in a tow zone in Miami which he says he did to avoid taking up a metered spot.

"There's a lot of traffic around here, a lot of places you want to go, but you can't find parking," said driver Maria Guaqueta.

In the middle of the parking congestion and confusion, far from the meter lights, the headlights and the tailights, one vehicle has long been in the spotlight.

"I see the car there all the time," said driver Mike Valdes.

"I notice it," said driver Maybel Gomez. "Every day I would notice (it)."

However, it was the man who may have noticed it was parked illegally sitting behind a no parking sign in a tow zone near a crosswalk.

"I thought it was wrong," said Robert, especially wrong because it was a Coral Gables police car on Coral Way and 34th, not even in this jurisdiction.

"It was a city of Coral Gables, and we live here in the city of Miami," said Robert.

Local 10 found the same SUV in the same spot one night, the next morning, during the mid-morning, on another night four days later and the following morning.

On the seventh day, Local 10 Investigator Ross Palombo found the driver, Officer Mike Baluja of the Coral Gables Police Department.

"You see this? (It) says this is a no parking zone here," Palombo told Baluja.

"I do, and the thing is I try not to take up a metered spot," Baluja said.

"Yeah, but aren't you breaking the law by parking here?" asked Palombo.

"Uh, perhaps. It could be," said Baluja.

"Perhaps? You're an officer, aren't you?" Palombo asked Baluja.

"Yes," Baluja said.

Baluja has been an officer with the Coral Gables Police Department for nearly 10 years and has a spotless record.

"Well, why are you doing it?" Palombo asked Baluja.

"I was just doing it to not take up a metered spot," Baluja said.

By his own admission, Baluja was not paying out the $1.50 per hour that everyone else is supposed to pay.

"It's an emergency vehicle," Baluja replied when asked if it was OK.

"For the city of Coral Gables, but you're in Miami right now," Palombo said.

"Correct," said Baluja.

"So, are you above the law?" asked Palombo.

"No, I'm not, I'm not saying that," said Baluja.