I'm not sure how you are carrying your ladder sections, but when I use mine, as I have several, they are all attached together via straps and bungees. Then I fashion up a long padded strap that goes over my shoulder. This way the weight is on my shoulder. Once I start to engage some brush, I can swing the section any way I want to help me maneuver the tight spots. It's comfortable if you make the strap right.
If you are going to leave your ladders sections in the tree, but leave your stand hidden somewhere nearby, I suggest leaving it farther away than what you are thinking. Thieves are crafty and just may start looking around and find it. I once had a stand out, locked, but left the rebar in the ground where I had a decoy. I hid the decoy very well, but someone noticed the rebar in the ground and started to snoop around until they found my well hidden stand.
And no, people don't walk around with bolt cutters in the woods. If they want to steal something bad enough, they'll just come back with the right tools and take it.