I've got climbers, fixed and hang on's. By far the most comfortable and (my opinion) safest feeling is my Summit Bullet climber. It's a sit & climb stand that compacts down in size. Basically like a Viper except it packs down. As far as ease of climbing - the sit & climb method can't be beaten. I would recommend the use of climbing stirrups even though they are a bit pricy, the ease of getting ready to decend the tree is worth it.
As far as a fixed (built to the tree) stand - I don't recommend them due to a false sense of security. If your going to use them, maintain them.
Hang on's are something that you'll find take some getting use to as far as ease of setting up. Even with practice, you will have some trees where you just can't set a stand just like you would like it. Sometimes you may have to go a bit lower or higher or forget that tree and find another one. The same holds true as far as a climbing stick. I have found I prefer the LW climbing sticks. I use 4 - 3' sections. With these and the use a any limbs available - if I can't get between 16 - 18' up .... I have no business going higher. They are pricy though - you can get a decent climbing stick that will most likely serve you well for half the price. With any climbing stick or sticks - you will eventually figure out how to haul up the extra straps or sections as you assend the tree. Always use a climbing belt when installing sticks & stands. Always use a safety belt once in or on a stand. This is a whole other story that you will have to decide which is best for you.
As far as theft - if they want it, there going to either get it or destroy it. Remember, public hunting prohibits permenate stands, nails, screw in steps or anything that can damage the tree (bark).
I prefer shooting from a hang on stand even though with the shorter compounds you generally won't have a problem with a sit & climb stand. If your worried about your bow limb hitting the stand, you stand a chance of blowing the shot.
There are several good stands (both climbers & fixed) on the market. My climber is a Summit, my hang on is a Loggy Bayou predator pro, my climbing sticks are Lone Wolf. My safety & climbing belt is a combination of Summit & Loggy Bayou.
One stand I haven't had many dealing with is a ladder stand. I can see where they can be the answer for many. I have helped my buddy put his up. It takes both of us and can be noisy along with being a chore threading it through the lower branches of surrounding trees.
Hope this helps answer some of your questions