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MARTA board member Jim Durrett runs fast to keep transit system safe

By Maria Saporta

Sometimes you just have to take things in your own hands.

Jim Durrett

Jim Durrett

That the situation that Jim Durrett, a MARTA board member and executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District, found himself in on Saturday morning.

He was waiting for his wife and brother-in-law near the Lindbergh MARTA Station on Saturday morning reading an email on his iPhone. All of a sudden, someone grabbed the iPhone out of his hands and started running.

Durrett, a super well-fit 50-something, bolted after the young man who had stolen his iPhone. He ran barefoot because he had been wearing crocks, Not only did he catch the guy and retrieve his iPhone. Durrett also took a picture of the guy with the very phone that had been grabbed out of his hands.

He contacted MARTA police and showed the them the photo. A short while later, the 16-year-old boy was apprehended — thanks to Durrett’s quick actions.

After the incident, Durrett called and said he wanted to find out more about the teenager to get a better understanding of why he had felt compelled to steal an iPhone. Durrett’s closing sentiment was maybe there was something he could do to help him make better choices in life.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Jim Durrett April 15, 2013 8:05 am

    A few corrections. I run the Buckhead Community Improvement District, not the Buckhead Coalition, which is Sam Massell’s baby. I also don’t consider this to be a MARTA incident. It simply happened near the Lindbergh Station on the street. I was waiting for my wife and her brother to arrive to have lunch together before I headed to North Georgia for a bike race on Sunday. The young man snatched the phone out of my hand as I was reading email and I had to chase him, barefoot (I kicked off my crocks) about 300 yards before he ran out of gas. I am 40 years his senior, and this goes to show you one of the benefits of bike riding. I did, however, pull a groin muscle chasing him down. Biking and running aren’t the same thing!

    The MARTA police were quick to respond after I phoned them post-photograph. I was able to describe the young man and point them in the direction he went after I got my phone. Apparently, there is a lot of phone snatching going on around the country these days.Report

  2. Eric Pinckney April 15, 2013 8:06 am

    What an outstanding display if courage and citizenship! Jim Durrett a role model!Report

  3. Jim McMahan April 15, 2013 8:39 am

    Good job Jim!
    Bike riding is a great athletic endeavor and I’m glad you had the endurance to run him down!
    50-something is the new 30-something! So I hear.
    Can you think of some form of community service in the Buckhead CID that the teenager could perform?
    Love to hear how this turns out.

    Jim McMahanReport

  4. Maria Saporta April 15, 2013 8:54 am

    I’m so sorry about those errors. Let me make the changes.

  5. Max April 15, 2013 9:04 am

    I am impressed that Mr. Durrett is safe, that he had the stamina to run down Junior in his bare feet, and most importantly, that Jim offers redemption to the youth.

    Police discourage citizens from derring-do, as this story could have ended poorly.

    Good work, Mr. Durrett, “The Barefoot Buckhead Bobby”Report

  6. Julie Seitz April 15, 2013 9:10 am

    That’s a great story – I’m sure between all of us in Leadership Atlanta, we can figure out some good volunteer work for this young boy to do to help him get on a better path.Report

  7. Pat Upshaw-Monteith April 15, 2013 10:09 am

    This should be a wake up call for all of us when we are out in public on our cellphones. I will tell you that this is a metro-wide phenomena and not specific to MARTA. Jim, you are a hero and finally we have someone who fought back. Good job!Report

  8. Joe Montinini April 15, 2013 12:01 pm

    you should have beaten his ass after you got the phone back.Report


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