Crime in the world can be divided into two rough categories. On the one side is crime that is organized and ran like a business. The other half is made up of crimes committed by an individual. Each of these divisions have characteristics that give each a significant difference from the other. Defining these differences is relatively easy.
Organized crime is long term.
While an individual may go on a long crime spree, individual crime will never last through multiple generations like organized crime. Often organized crime is made up of a crime family or a collection of criminals and has a structure that resembles any other large profitable business. Because of this organized structure, organized crime has the ability to reproduce itself and its methods in each new generation. The crime business become durable as an offshoot of society.
Organized crime carries social influence.
Because of its staying power, organized crime can develop deep roots into the social structure of a society. In large cities, crime bosses are often considered to have a high social standing although the negative aspects are never far beneath the surface. It is common for these giants of crime to be courted by politicians, corporate leaders, and at times even religious leaders. The vast sums of revenue generated by organized crime gives the head of the organization a great deal of wealth and power.
Organized crime develops political power.
Many times the ability of the organized criminals are asked to lend their influence to various political causes and elections. While this is often done behind the scenes, the effect can be quite large. In some large cities, there have been times when those who chose to not play ball with organized crime were unable to be elected. In later generations, some members of organized crime families have even been able to successfully run for office and win. These people have usually divorced themselves from the operations of the crime family while still having access to their influence and money.
Organized crime tends to run ongoing illegal operations instead of performing small illegal acts.
Organized crime would rather do book making or drug smuggling than engage in burglary or hold up gas stations. The idea of being organized is to allow them to engage in wide spread activities that produce revenue day after day without having to scope out the next place to hit.
Individual crime is opportunistic.
Unlike organized crime that runs systems of operations, the individual is much more likely to look for easy targets to hit. The individual criminal will look for the woman where a purse can be easily snatched. They will look for keys left in the car or packages that are unattended. Individual criminals like unlocked doors and remote places where they can get in and out quickly and not be seen.
Individual crime only happens when the individual is there.
Organized crime can operate in many venues due to the size of the business. With individuals, a crime can is committed only when the criminal is there in person to do the job. If the individual gets arrested, the crime spree ends. With organized crime, the crime does not stop unless the organization is broken.
Individual crime is usually smaller than organized crime.
The individual criminal is willing to go after the small take. The idea of the individual criminal is that even a small act that nets what is wanted is worth doing. A single assault, rape, or robbery is the trade mark of an individual. If the prize is not significant, organized crime will not view it as worth doing unless it is a matter of honor.
Comparing the individual criminal to organized crime is like comparing a Mom and Pop Diner to a national restaurant chain. It is a difference of magnitude on a grand scale. The earnings potential plus the scope of the operations puts organized crime in a position to draw revenue from many sources instead of just one local outlet.