There is no way someone can smash-n-grab gear on a Cotton Carrier, and there's no way someone can cut-n-run with the Cotton Carrier because the design itself prohibits this.
The shoulder straps are merely there for stability, and don't support much weight. Cutting the two shoulder straps will not allow someone to take your gear, they'd have to also either unbuckle or cut the waist strap.
Your gear is safer on the Cotton Carrier than it is in probably any other photographic carry solution. The reasons:
1.) Your gear is on you, and it is in plain sight. Thieves, even if they are smart enough to know how to get the gear off, are creatures of opportunity. They look for the quick win, the easy grab. They aren’t going to look at people who present a difficult target, or people who carry themselves with a manner of confidence. A thief isn’t going to look at someone who is physically dominant, someone who is in control. With your gear on your body, secured in a fashion that in unknown to them, they will not choose you as their target. They will not, even if they stand and watch you for an hour studying your every move, choose you if they feel obtaining the goal is not an easy task. The design of the Cotton Carrier, the way in which you have to remove the gear alone is enough to deter a criminal.
Having the gear on you, that close, and in an unknown way, is more than enough to deter a criminal.
2.) You are in control of yourself and your gear. On the Cotton Carrier your gear is more secure than it would be on a shoulder strap, R-strap, etc.. Your gear is less mobile, and less likely to get in your way. You can have both hands free, and in that you present a hard target. If a criminal has to think about what you can do with your hands, he may not choose you. If you look like you can maneuver without hindrance, he may not choose you. If you have hands-free ability, he may not choose you. The reason: because if you can present defense of yourself, they will not strike.
3.) You really can’t cut the Cotton Carrier. A lot of thieves are thieves of speed, meaning that they are looking for the quick grab. With a shoulder strap, with some exceptions (Pac-safe et al), it is easy for a thief to simply come up behind you and cut the strap. Easy access to your gear will make you a better target. Cut strap, lose gear. Even something like the Pac-safe strap does not provide as much security, because the strap can be pulled off your shoulder and away from your body. On the Cotton Carrier, you can cut both shoulder straps clean off, and your gear stays on you. The thief who just cut your straps will have marbles rolling around in his head for a few seconds, and then he’ll probably run off. The thief can’t simply run up and pull the Cotton Carrier off. Heck, it’s hard enough for us to get it off ourselves sometimes. Easy targets are easy for a reason, because thieves know how to attack. Hard targets or unknown targets are harder, because it makes the thief think. Which is something they most likely aren’t ready to do, especially on the spot. Thieves like convenience, they like fast opportunity. If they don’t have it, they move on.
With your gear on the Cotton Carrier you have more options than you would with straps. You can defend yourself, you can use your cell phone, you can run. Try to run with gear on straps, it’s hard to do because the gear moves. Do the same with the Cotton Carrier. Sure, the gear will move, but not anywhere near as much as it would on straps. Try to defend against a punch with straps on, your gear will probably get in your way, preventing you from effectively defending yourself. Do it with the Cotton Carrier, your body and hands have more freedom of motion, more ability to defend.
I have trained thousands of people, many of which carry full tactical or military gear, and it is far easier to move and defend with gear that is secure to your body. It is not easy to defend when gear has the ability to move in your way, or has the ability to fall. Even against an armed attacker, it is far easier to defend with gear snug to your body.
The one thing I have always told people when training them is this: If somebody wants to hurt you bad enough, they will figure out a way to do it. If somebody wants your stuff bad enough, they will figure out a way to get it. Against an armed attacker, you’re best bet is to just do what they say. It’s only gear, that’s what insurance is for. Better to live and lose the cost of new gear than to fight and lose more than gear. Even I, a formally trained person, would think before reacting to someone with a gun or knife. You can’t Kung Fu a bullet.
But, at least the Cotton Carrier provides a better chance, a better choice.