FBI LINKS HEIST SUSPECT TO ROBBERY STRING

Blue Stove Antiques was robbed at gunpoint in early June by a man authorities have linked to armed robberies of New Jersey jewelry stores going back half a decade. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A 68-year-old Staten Island man accused of robbing a Fair Haven antiques store at gunpoint in June has been linked to three jewelry store robberies dating back to 2007, the FBI says.

And just days before his arrest, the suspect appeared to be casing one of those stores for a second try, the FBI suggests in a document filed in the case.

To date, Robert Fiolka has been charged only with the gunpoint robbery of Blue Stove Antiques in Fair Haven, according to a complaint on file in federal court in Trenton. He made off with $200,000 worth of jewelry in the heist, the FBI alleges.

But an affidavit by an FBI agent lays out a narrative that appears to link Fiolka to at least three other armed robberies, including two at the same store in Old Bridge and one at a Ballew Jewelers in Wall Township.

And just four days before his arrest on August 30, Fiolka appeared to have been sizing up that Ballew store, according to the document sworn by Agent Tom Rogers.

Citing eyewitness accounts, vehicle rentals and other evidence, the FBI links Fiolka to:

• The gunpoint robbery of a Corbo Jewelers store in Old Bridge on October 25, 2007

• The January 28, 2009 armed robbery of a Ballew Jewelers store in Wall

• The December 28, 2011 robbery of the same Corbo Jewelers store in Old Bridge

• The June 2, 2012 robbery of Blue Stove Antiques

The FBI has also linked Fiolka and an unidentified co-conspirator to suspicious activities reported by employees of J. Vincent Jewelers in Colts Neck in June and July of this year. On one of those occasions, Colts Neck police questioned Fiolka about his presence as he sat in a vehicle in the parking lot after a nervous clerk summoned them.

According to the affidavit, authorities had Fiolka under surveillance on August 24 when they tailed him from his home in Staten Island to Wall Township, where he parked in a lot directly across the street from the Ballew store for more than an hour, several times opening the trunk of his vehicle and once changing his shirt.

The FBI said it alerted the Ballew store not to open at its regular scheduled opening time of 10 a.m., and that Fiolka, after driving over to the store at at about 10 and seeing it closed, left the scene.

He was arrested at his home on August 31, records show.

The FBI also lays out evidence it alleges alleges to link Fiolka to the Blue Stove robbery, including a license plate number on the getaway vehicle, a rented van that was traced via credit cards and other records directly to the suspect, as well as cellphone records.

Separately, a Google search of the name Robert Fiolka turns up a 1967 report in the Red Bank Daily Register of the arrest of a 23-year-old Robert Fialko of the Bronx after holding a Matawan bank employee hostage in an armed robbery.  The suspect was also believed to have robbed the same bank six months earlier, the Register reported. The outcome of that case, and whether the same suspect was involved in both, could not be immediately determined.

A federal Bureau of Prisons record shows that a Robert Fiolka, 68, was released from prison in 2005, though no explanatory information is available online.

Here’s the FBI document: USA v. Fiolka 2012