What crime would land you 20 years in prison? Aggravated vehicular assault and rape will often set you in the slammer for two decades, but this past Wednesday, serial burglar Eric Bramwell, 35, was sentenced 22 years in jail after stealing a remote control from the Wheaton 121 apartments.

 

The harsh sentence was due because of Bramwell’s criminal history, which includes two felony convictions and a recent 6-month sentence for using profanity in court. During the two-day trial, which ended on Jan. 4, prosecutors brought forth evidence that Bramwell had committed similar offenses since 2014 in Lisle, Aurora, Downers Grove and other Chicago suburbs.

 

The Wheaton 121 apartments, where Bramwell committed his most recent burglary on Aug. 1, are located half a mile from campus. After he dropped a glove at the scene, Wheaton police officers matched Bramwell’s DNA to a sample in a database of felons, leading to his arrest on Oct. 2 and his conviction on Nov. 9.

 

“Regardless of what was stolen, Mr. Bramwell repeatedly thumbed his nose at the law,” DuPage County State Attorney Robert Berlin said in a press release. “(His) illegal activity and his history have finally caught up with him.”

 

News outlets around the country have taken a somewhat myopic view of the case, publishing headlines such as “Prosecutor Defends Man’s 22-Year Sentence for Stealing TV Remote” and “Man jailed for 22 years for stealing a television remote.” Bramwell’s criminal history makes him eligible for “Class X Sentencing,” which increases the possible length of a sentence from 364 days for simple theft to up to 30 years based on past offenses.

 

Bramwell will only be eligible for parole once he has served half of his sentence — in other words, he will get out of prison when he is no younger than 46 years old.
“He took what he wanted time and time again and expected to avoid the consequences,” Berlin said. “That’s not how it works, as Mr. Bramwell has now found out.”