Dumpster diving

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It may just be recycling, but it’s the city’s recycling – so keep your mitts off it!

A dozen “recycling thieves” were carted off the streets of Brooklyn last month as the Department of Sanitation continued its ongoing crackdown against pilferers of paper, plastic and the always-lucrative aluminum.

Brooklyn also had the lion's share of the 28 vehicle seizures that took place during June’s recycle-thief sweep conducted by the DSNY Police Force.

But, not to worry, the little old ladies skulking through your trash looking for five-cent cans to redeem will still be out and about: They’re apparently spared the draconian debris enforcement, officials said.

“This is not for those people you see with shopping carts or the homeless who are collecting cans as they try to scrape by,” said a DSNY spokesperson, who added that the agency’s police force is simply fulfilling the letter of a new law put on the books back in October. “It’s aimed at people who utilize motor vehicles and are looking to make a big profit. It’s similar to our illegal-dumping law.”

The city law imposed stiff sanctions against anyone caught grabbing large amounts of recycling off of residential and commercial streets and throwing it into their vehicles to cash in later.

Those caught snagging car- or truckloads of recyclables can have their cars seized and receive fines of $2,000 for a first offender.

Repeat recycling thieves could receive fines upwards of $5,000, officials said.

“One of the Sanitation Police’s main priorities is to stop the unlawful removal of recyclables from city streets by individuals seeking to make a profit out of curbside recycling collections, which is the Department’s sole responsibi­lity,” declared DSNY Commissioner John Doherty in a statement.

Villainous vagabonds caught last month were found on Gold Street in Brooklyn Heights, Lenox Road in East Flatbush, East 84th Street in Canarsie, West 31st Street in Coney Island and 60th, 80th and 86th Street in Bensonhurst.

These days DSNY cops seem to have more of an eye on recycling thieves than on illegal dumpers.

Only nine dumpers – less than a third of the raucous recycling thieves apprehended – were stopped and fined throughout the city this past June.

Five of them were from Brooklyn, Sanitation officials said.

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