The comments on the story mention a rumour going around Newham that ‘there is someone going around biting chunks out of people’. He has moved down from Birmingham and has attacked people in Poplar and Ilford, and he can take the form of an animal and appear in different places. Tom refers to an account in the Guardian of this urban legend, which started recently in Birmingham:
bq. A vampire is on the loose in Birmingham. And an inept one, if reports are to be believed. Which they aren’t. Last month, this “vampire” went on a “rampage” in Glen Park Road, Ward End. The attacker reportedly bit a male pedestrian and then bit neighbours who came to the man’s aid. One woman had “chunks” bitten out of her hand, according to reports, which feature lots of one-word “quotes” and very little in the way of named sources.
The Guardian article has a nice list of the urbanlegends.about.com top ten legends of 2004 (unfortunately the Guardian gave the wrong URL).
bq. David Emery, chronicler of folklore for urbanlegends.com [no, it is urbanlegends.about.com], defines urban legends as “apocryphal stories, told as true and plausible enough to be believed, about horrific, embarrassing, exasperating or ironic things that have supposedly happened to real people. In lieu of evidence, the teller of an urban legend is apt to rely upon good storytelling and the naming of allegedly trustworthy sources (eg a friend of a friend who swears it is true) to bolster its credibility. Legends tend to arise spontaneously and are rarely traceable to a single point of origin.” No wonder, then, that the once-bitten of Birmingham have since become so publicity-shy. If, that is, they existed in the first place.