The City of Charleston has had a bike-snatching epidemic downtown. It’s not unheard (and almost too common) to hear about someone who’d had three or four bikes stolen.

The losses, along with the resulting police crackdown, has resulted in a surge in bike registrations. The city charges $1 for the service. In 2007, 368 people registered their bikes. As of Nov. 24, the city has received 541 registrations in 2008.

We covered bike thefts in Sept. 2007.

Melissa Bigner wasn’t hardheaded, she just thought she understood the underground market for bicycles. After getting her “fancy” bike stolen, Melissa replaced it with a “cheapo replacement.” She spraypainted it and secured the bike with a similarly cheapo lock on her front porch.

“I thought it would be absolutely unattractive to anybody,” she says. Of course, the bike was stolen. Melissa doesn’t expect to see it again, but every time she comes across a similar bike with a crummy paint job (because she’s convinced that it’s been repainted), she takes a long, hard look.