Upload & Sell: Off
Wow, I am sorry for your loss, too. Out of curiosity, the thief (or thieves) could just waltz in into the area where all the backpacks were stored? Call me paranoid, but I would not leave my bag full of camera gear like that. No offense, and I hope you don't mind me saying that. In addition, I got the feeling that the thieves knew what they were doing and targeted bag/backpacks that are heavy and looked like camera gear stored inside, yours, with other words .
There is no particular area where backpacks are stored - ie., nothing "secured" or separate. In the convention center, it's pretty much wide open with courts arranged somewhat in a grid with space for a single row of chairs around each court and walkways.
If your team is playing, you generally have your backpack, purse, or other personal belongings either under the chair you are sitting in or behind it. If your team isn't playing, then you are usually standing somewhere (possibly watching other teams playing, otherwise talking and passing the time until next match) and bags tend to be on the floor in front of you.
Parents keep an eye on each others stuff, but these tournaments are (were?) a fairly trusting environment.
In my case, my backpack was leaning against the side of my chair since I was on the end (although in the middle of the court). Usually my butt is on the floor so the bag is right beside me, but in this game I was moving around and shooting from the end of the court.
My mistake leaving my bag without asking one of the other parents to watch it for me.
Insurance covered the lenses that were stolen. Outside of the disappointment that people are "working" tournaments like that, the bigger pain was that my keys were in the bag. Made it fun getting back to Austin after a 2 day tournament. /bleck
So yeah, I strongly suspect you are right. The Houston convention center isn't in one of the nicer parts of town and it is pretty easy pickings. Backpacks and purses on the floor everywhere with everyone watching their daughters' games pretty intently.