Pasadena PD celebrates 40 years of taking a bite out of crime


This July, McGruff the Crime Dog turned 40, and that’s not in dog years.

It was in 1980 that he was introduced by the National Prevention Council to the public as an unnamed canine and soon became known as McGruff the Crime Dog. He became well-known for his commercials, comic books, live events at local schools and started a neighborhood revolution with the motto “Take a Bite out of Crime.”

He wore a rumpled trench coat and often filled television commercial breaks with his tips on locking doors, leaving lights on when away from home and letting your neighbors know when you were going on vacation.

At Pasadena Police Department, McGruff became another tool inside of Pasadena Police Department‘s educational toolbox.  They used puppets, pamphlets, coloring books, learning materials along with a full-size McGruff at various school events in the last four decades.

Prior to COVID-19, McGruff was still used at local Pasadena elementary schools to teach everything from

stranger danger, bullying to school safety.

 “He’s just really relatable. People can connect with him, because at some point in our lives, we all watched cartoons and what symbolizes being a kid more than a crime fighting dog?” Allen said. “You can share a lesson on safety and kids love him”

Pasadena PD has used the puppets and the McGruff costume  sits in the Department’s Community Services Unit.

Often, the hardest part of getting McGruff to come out to an event, has nothing to do with scheduling, but everything to do with fitting into the suit.

“It’s a really, really hard suit to fit into,” Allen admits. “Not everyone can wear the suit and fill the boots of McGruff. It takes someone with a McGruff sized personality to bring the character to life.”

Pasadena PD has had McGruff as a part of their educational outreach to kids and community for decades.












Pasadena PD has used McGruff from kindergarten to high school, and while the high school kids are not too excited, the adults almost always are.

“We’ve had adults come up to him and they were totally head over heels for him,” Allen said. “It’s part of their childhood and meeting him can be exciting.”

Some Facts about McGruff

  • There are 4,000 active McGruffs (number of costumes in use).
  • McGruff has a classy Corvette, a monster truck in Arizona, and a wiener wagon in Florida. But most of all, he likes to ride in patrol cars assisting law enforcement.
  • McGruff’s favorite crime-fighting techniques are to teach children specific tips to be safe at home and school and to help law enforcement officers do their jobs better.
  • McGruff is a “ham,” so he loves doing public service announcements for television and radio or posing for print or billboard advertising.
  • In 2010, McGruff turned 30 years young. He had birthday parties all around the country, making appearances at health and safety fairs and other media events and showing off his 32-foot-tall balloon at county and state fairs. He has blown out birthday candles on countless cakes. He has made the most of these opportunities to spread the word about preventing crime.(Tips courtesy National Prevention Council)

Photo courtesy Pasadena Police Department