Unlike most cyclists in Toronto, Warren Hull got his stolen bike back — but not before it took a trip around the world.

Hull's tiffany blue mountain bike travelled nearly 27,000 kilometres to the Philippines and back before it was returned to him in September.

Hull named the bike Tiffany for its colour, and he reached out with the "crazy story" of its stolen adventures as part of the bike theft series CBC Toronto put out last week.

So how did Tiffany end up in the Philippines? Let's start from the beginning.

Hull has been mountain biking for more than 20 years. He bought Tiffany, a plus model Trek Stache, in 2015 to use as his winter ride on the trails of Durham Forest about an hour northeast of Toronto.

After taking the $3,000 bike for a ride there in March, he locked Tiffany up in his condo storage locker in Liberty Village. A week later, he went down to get some pasta sauce and it was gone.

"I was kind of dumbfounded," said Hull. Nothing else but the bike was stolen, he added.

Hull quickly got in touch with the building's concierge, who found security footage of the bike being stolen by two thieves on March 24.

Tiffany gets stolen, security footage

Hull got this security footage of his bike being stolen from his condo's concierge. (Warren Hull)

"You think it's gone," Hull told CBC Toronto. "Then seeing someone actually walking out with your bike, it irked me more."

A Toronto man got his stolen bike back from the Philippines1:48

Sleuthing begins

After reporting the theft to police, Hull started playing amateur sleuth. When his bike was stolen, it was missing the "quick release," a part that allowed one of the wheels to spin. Hull says without it, the thieves couldn't ride the bike out.

So Hull got in contact with Trek through a downtown bike shop, because the part could only be ordered through the manufacturer. Suddenly, he had a name. 

'It was just too coincidental, so through social media, through Facebook, Instagram, I searched and searched and searched.'
- Warren Hull

"I was missing that part, and this person had ordered it in the span of a day of me realizing it was gone," said Hull. "It was just too coincidental, so through social media, through Facebook, Instagram, I searched and searched and searched," he said.

"I found a gentleman matching that name and his profile picture was of him on a mountain bike so I put two and two together and I guess he was my main suspect."

From there, Hull entered his "creeper" phase. He followed the man's social media posts hoping to catch a glimpse of Tiffany, but he saw a couple other clues first.

'Those are my brakes'

The man changed his profile photo at one point and in it, the man's bike had different-coloured brakes on it. After seeing the photo, Hull immediately thought, "Those are my brakes."

After that, Hull saw that the man had put his XTR pedals up for sale on a Facebook group for used bicycle parts.

"That was another jab in the heart, because now he's selling parts off," Hull told CBC Toronto. "Not only is he using my brakes, he's now selling parts of the bike."

Warren sees pedals getting sold on Facebook

When Hull saw his 'main suspect' had sold Tiffany's brakes on Facebook, it was 'another jab in the heart.' (Warren Hull)

Up to this point, Hull hadn't reached out to the man. He says it was a waiting game. 

"Even though so many people were like, 'It's him, it's him, it's him,' I was giving him the benefit of the doubt," said Hull. "Until I physically saw the bike, I couldn't accuse him."

Hull said he had pieces of the puzzle, but it didn't come together until early August.

It was 2 a.m. when Hull decided to check in on the man's posts and saw Tiffany for the first time in months.

"I was yelling through the condo, 'Are you f--king kidding me? Tiffany, Tiffany, it's found!' to my girlfriend," said Hull, adding that the bike was discovered in the Philippines.

Post Warren saw of his bike in the Philippines

After seeing a couple of clues in past posts, Hull finally got a glimpse of his bike when it was tagged in a photo from the Philippines. (Warren Hull)

The man had shipped Tiffany to his sister-in-law, and she had tagged him in a photo, thanking him when the bike, and another had arrived.

"I guess that was the final straw on my end," Hull told CBC Toronto. "I'm seeing it but it's also in the Philippines. It's not like it's in Markham, or Kingston or Ottawa. It's in the Philippines." 

After he "calmed down a bit," Hull says, he posted on Facebook about how his "beloved Tiffany" had arrived in the Philippines. He let social media do the rest.

Hull got a lot of feedback online, including from those asking him if he was going to go there to get it back. For the record, he says he "didn't want it that bad."

But then Hull got a message from a friend he had made through the Stolen Bikes Toronto Facebook page. The friend told him to take the post down because the man would be shipping Tiffany back.

'Tiffany' comes home

"It came back two weeks later and I ended up meeting the guy who had bought it," said Hull. "He was very apologetic, very emotional. He was scared of me, of what I was going to do.

"It was kind of surreal to get it back after an around-the-world trip."

Warren getting his bike back

After the bike travelled nearly 27,000 kilometres, Hull got Tiffany back when he met up Sept. 1 with the man who had it. (Warren Hull)

After getting the bike back on Sept. 1, Hull phoned police to let them know.

"The first question the cop asked, do I want to charge him? No I don't want to charge the guy, I got my bike back," said Hull. "He learnt his lesson, why am I going to charge him? He didn't take it. Maybe he knew it was stolen, maybe he didn't, I don't know."

Now he says Tiffany has become a bit of a celebrity in the mountain biking community. After getting it back, he thought about selling the bike, but his friends quickly dissuaded him. 

"Seeing it, seeing the colour and and actually riding it again, I'm like, 'Yeah I can't sell it.'"
- Warren Hull

"They're like, 'You can't sell it, it's got a story!'" Hull told CBC Toronto. "Seeing it, seeing the colour and actually riding it again, I'm like, 'Yeah I can't sell it.'"

Since its return, Tiffany's accommodations have been upgraded.

The storied bike now stays with Hull in his condo and he doesn't trust his storage locker with much more than pasta sauce.

More bike theft stories from CBC Toronto:

With files from CBC's Lauren Pelley