CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Burglars can gain entry through an unlocked door or smash a window. In many cases, breaking in is the easy part according to burglars. But the clock is ticking-- with only a few minutes to grab and go.

“I'm looking for jewelry, cash, guns. If you've got guns they're easy to sell-- anything that's going to be easy to sell that's not really big,” said Jerome Gilgan.

Gilgan is a former criminal who turned his life around.

Eighty-six convicted felons, who are now serving time for burglary, answered questions anonymously from prison.

“You always want to hit the bedrooms first because there's going to be safe in the closet and they're going to hide it. Jewelry is always in the bedrooms. Guns and stuff like that are usually in the closet and the bedrooms,” Gilgan explained.

One burglar said an "NRA sticker on the car bumper equals lots of guns to steal".

Another said they look for hidden valuables "everywhere! From the stove and freezer, to the fish tank and toilet tank".

The only thing stopping the heist would be an alarm system or dog. And sometimes not even that will deter a burglar.

“A lot of times the dogs just bark and when you get in you can pet them. I've threw them food out of the refrigerator. Throw them a bone or some food and they'll start eating,” said Gilgan.

So make sure you pick up your mail. If you're going out of town have a neighbor pick it up. Make your home visible and try to prevent the break-in from happening in the first place.