Types of Crime

The United States has more than a single crime problem. One problem is high, though currently declining, rates of street crime (including homicide, assault, rape, robbery, and burglary). Much of this type of crime is committed by an alienated and self‐destructive underclass. Another is the drug‐crime problem, which is linked to the first problem. Some drug‐intoxicated individuals commit crimes because they have lost their inhibitions while under the influence.

There are also crimes that stem from the drug business (for example, money laundering) and crimes that arise from economic necessity, because users need money to buy more drugs. Then, too, there is the organized‐crime problem, which is intertwined with the drug‐crime problem insofar as drug trafficking is the major source of income for organized‐crime groups. In addition, there is a white‐collar‐crime problem. It, too, is linked to other types of crime. For example, federal investigators uncovered a scheme in 1998 by two New York crime families and a half dozen Wall Street stockbrokers to commit stock fraud.

  • Drug crimes. The drug‐crime category encompasses a range of offenses connected with the use, transportation, purchase, and sale of illegal drugs.

  • Street crime. The most common forms of predatory crime—rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft—occur most frequently on urban streets. Racial minority citizens account for a disproportionately high number of the arrests for street crimes.

  • Organized crime. The term “organized crime” refers to the unlawful activities of members of criminal organizations that supply illegal goods and services.

  • Political crime. The political‐crime category contains both crimes by the government and crimes against the government. Political goals motivate political criminals.

  • Victimless crime. Consensual acts (in which people are willing participants) and violations in which only the perpetrator is hurt, such as the personal use of illegal drugs, are called victimless crimes.

  • White‐collar crime. White‐collar crimes are offenses that persons commit while acting in their legitimate jobs and professions. White‐collar criminals behave in unethical ways for self‐gain (for example, embezzlement) or for the benefit of a business (for example, corporate price‐fixing). Victims of white‐collar crime include the economy, employers, consumers, and the environment.