I never realized that it is such a difference between US and Europe. But as I Google around on the subject it seems you are right.
About the lucrative part of pick pocketing, there is a big difference in Europe and the US I am afraid. Due to open borders (mobility), differences in police- and justice systems between the European countries and the very mild punishments for these facts over here it is very lucrative, especially when criminal organizations use kids.
A ' local' pickpocket is almost never the case, it are well organized groups that travel from country to country.
In most cities or other spots that are visited by crowds of tourists it is indeed a big issue and I think it is the same all over Europe (south, west, east for sure, I am not sure about the Scandinavian countries...).