Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Willie Pickett stands outside Hampton Inn & Suites on Canal Street Wednesday protesting poor theft response Pickett said he is receiving from hotel management.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Willie Pickett stands outside Hampton Inn & Suites on Canal Street Wednesday protesting poor theft response Pickett said he is receiving from hotel management.

Man takes lost valuables to streets

Published 12:03am Saturday, January 18, 2014

NATCHEZ — Motorists passing through Natchez are becoming quite familiar with Willie Pickett’s squabble with a local hotel.

Pickett, 53, has been a fixture since Monday on the sidewalk in front of Hampton Inn & Suites on Canal Street carrying signs suggesting the hotel’s housekeepers are untrustworthy.

The Natchez native and Sacramento, Calif., resident said he stayed at the hotel in November, adding his trouble started following his checkout.

Later in the day, Pickett said he noticed a jacket of his was missing, along with a watch and ring he last saw before putting them into one of the jacket’s pockets.

“The jacket is a $700, $800 jacket,” Pickett said. “I’m not trying to give it away to anyone. I bought it for me to wear.”

Pickett said he talked with hotel management while in California and was unhappy with their response.

He said he flew back to Mississippi this week for the purpose of protesting in front of the hotel and will continue to do so until he is scheduled to leave Wednesday.

Hampton Inn & Suites Natchez General Manager Thomas Switzer said the hotel takes Pickett’s claim seriously. Switzer said he turned over a report and list of missing items provided by Pickett to the hotel insurance company this week. A ruling is expected in 10 business days.

“When (Pickett) came here Monday, I went out and talked to him and invited him in,” Switzer said. “We sat down and had a cup of coffee, and he gave me the list of things missing.

“My director of operations talked to him on Monday after we talked, and (Pickett) had promised the director of operations he wouldn’t come back and protest until we heard from the insurance company.”

Switzer said hotel staff immediately searched for Pickett’s missing items when they were alerted of the charge an hour after his checkout.

The missing items were not discovered and foul play was not suspected, Switzer said.

“In the last six months, the only (housekeepers) we have released are ones that moved away,” Switzer said. “The two in particular he is talking about: one has been here almost since the hotel opened. The other has been here over a year.”

Pickett, who identified himself as retired, said he is not satisfied with the company’s response and will plan future trips to protest if the situation is not resolved.

“Give me back what I lost and make me whole,” Pickett said. “I don’t want anything extra. Give me what I lost, and you will never hear from me again.”