Local News

Police: Identity thief tried to break into Durham Social Security office

Posted September 19, 2013

A man was taken into custody by Durham police early Thursday after he allegedly broke into the Social Security building in the 3000 block of Tower Boulevard.

— Police arrested a Chapel Hill man early Thursday after he allegedly tried to break into a Social Security Administration office in Durham through the building's roof.

Brendan Phillip Cannell, 25, was treated at a hospital Thursday for an arm injury he suffered when he jumped from the roof trying to flee police. Upon his release, he was charged with felony breaking and entering, damage to property and resisting, delaying and obstructing officers.

Officers responded to the Social Security building, at 3004 Tower Blvd., at about 1 a.m. after an alarm went off. When they arrived, they heard loud banging sounds and saw a man moving around on the roof of the building.

The man refused to comply with officers' demands to come down, so they fired shots at him, believing him to be a potential imminent deadly threat, police said. He wasn't wounded by the gunfire.

Police apprehended the man shortly after he jumped from the roof. They didn't say if he had any weapons.

A hole about a foot wide was cut into the building's roof, but metal sheeting underneath the roof appears to have prevented further access to the building. Police also found a second, smaller hole in the roof.

Social Security officials said no files in the Durham office were compromised.

Although police haven't released details on the motive for the attempted break-in, they said Cannell was on federal probation for identity theft and credit card fraud charges.

Federal court documents state that Cannell used forged keys to break into a state Division of Motor Vehicles office in Carrboro in 2008, where he stole personal information of scores of people who had obtained driver's licenses.

Hole cut into roof of Durham Social Security office Man tried to cut through roof of Social Security office

A search of his home turned up a list of DMV offices with hand-drawn sketches of keyholes, and investigators found books on picking locks, documents and credit cards in other people's names at his parents house, according to federal court documents.

Investigators also found records related to making and obtaining explosives and letters outlining plans to use stolen identities to amass wealth and then recruit a team to rob banks and armored cars. When he was arrested, he told authorities that he found criminal activity to be "addicting," court records state.

Court records show that Cannell was released from federal prison last December, and he now lives with his parents in Chapel Hill and is studying computer programming at Durham Technical Community College.

Kammie Michael, a spokeswoman for the Durham Police Department, said investigators are reviewing the officers' decision to fire at Cannell. She didn't say whether anyone had been taken off patrol pending the outcome of the review.


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  • tommys5 Sep 20, 2013

    Another felon from Durham registerd to vote AND VOTED in the last election.The artice says he is on probation,voting as a felon is a felony.

    To register to vote in a North Carolina county, a person must meet the following qualifications:
    • Must be a U.S. citizen.
    • Must be a resident of North Carolina.
    • Prior to voting, must be a resident of the county for at least 30 days prior to election day.
    • Must be at least 18 years old or will be 18 by the date of the next general election.
    • Must rescind any previous registration in another county or state.
    • If previously convicted of a felony, the person’s citizenship rights must be restored (must not be serving an active sentence, including probation or parole).

  • 61babygirl29 Sep 20, 2013

    Seems like "Makami" should have been one of the ones to help the victim-but again, let's place the blame on someone other than those that were negligent to help. Sad-but it's the way of the world, right?

  • Wacky_dood Sep 20, 2013

    What a looooooooosssseeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

  • Justic4All Sep 19, 2013

    myth myth myth Yup, Ya got me there. I really wouldn't know.

  • outhousecat Sep 19, 2013

    Why on earth is Durham Tech teaching a felon computer technology. Do they think he wants to become some IT drone working in a basement somewhere with his record?

    Please, Durham Tech. Kick this felon out of school before he hacks everybody's personal information again.

  • Realamerican71 Sep 19, 2013

    Wow, this guy had grand plans. Or, delusions of grandeur. The authorities found all sorts of stuff at his parents house. Glad he's off the street. However, firing at the guy as he runs across the roof top? That seems to be a bit much.

  • edtomjr Sep 19, 2013

    Justic4all, myth myth myth. People still believe that people live it up in prison? Give me a break, that view point is so dated.

  • Justic4All Sep 19, 2013

    Obviously he likes prison. Rent free, three meals a day, clean sheets and fashionable clothes, (same as others), big screen TV, weights to work out with, round ball courts, east living. Much better than living on the outside so why not be a criminal? Beats working at McDonald's and he can't even get a job there anyway. And Who pays for his lavish living arrangement? Should ship them all to AZ. Prison is much less expensive there and felons don't want to return.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Sep 19, 2013

    wakemom - "Officer fired not killed this man in a standoff. the incident day before they shot to kill. interesting..."

    This man wasn't waving a firearm at them.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Sep 19, 2013

    "Court records show that Cannell was released from federal prison last December, and he now lives with his parents in Chapel Hill and is studying computer programming at Durham Technical Community College."

    So that's what he was attempting.

    Apparently he was let out of prison too soon - what a surprise in our so-called "justice system".

    Now lock him up for good and forever.