CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s the most wonderful time of the year for everyone — including burglars.

As we enter what will be another busy holiday season, burglars are breaking downs doors, smashing windows, and lurking in your neighborhoods.

NBC Charlotte heard from people who served time in prison for very committing this very crime.

“Sometimes we would scope it out. Looking for people that were going in to work the same time every day. And other times you would just take a chance, risk it,” said one woman who served time in prison for burglary.

Studies show 30 percent of burglars will use an unlocked door or window to get inside your house.

"We usually look for places that look lights out. People usually go to other people’s houses for the holidays," she said.

She says she’d stay away from houses with dogs and security screens.

Other tips to avoid becoming a target this holiday season: put lights or a radio inside on timers, put lawn furniture, the kids' bikes and toys, and other garden tools in a secured area, and have a neighbor pick up your mail, but do not publicize your trip on social media.

"A lot of people use the Nextdoor app but by asking someone, 'hey, can you come get my mail or can somebody watch my dog,' if someone sees that, naturally they're going to know you're gone,” said Johnathan Frisk with CMPD.

Police said security signs in your yard are also a deterrent, even if you aren’t really paying for the service.

Burglars said it only takes about three minutes for them to get in and out.